Urban Agriculture as a Tool for Horticultural Education and Youth Development

  • Mary A. RogersEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 18)


Youth in urban areas often lack access to natural areas, and thus a connection to plants and the environment. Garden-enhanced learning and place-based learning has experienced renewed interest since the early 1990s, as a way to reconnect youth with the natural environment and to improve health outcomes. School gardens are typically found in urban areas and used to enhance science-based learning outcomes. School gardens and summer and after-school garden programs in urban areas can also be used to improve attitudes and preferences for fruits and vegetables, potentially increasing consumption and leading to positive health outcomes. A comprehensive review of the literature shows that youth gardens can reduce stress, improve attitudes toward school, facilitate collaboration and teamwork and intercultural awareness, improve peer relations and prosocial behavior, and improve self-efficacy and self-esteem. Evaluations of garden programs indicate that involving youth in higher-order responsibilities such as garden planning and decision-making results in higher levels of participation and leadership development. Most urban garden programs are targeted toward elementary and middle school ages, and fewer examples exist in the literature on high school programs, despite the evidence that this cohort can benefit from urban garden-based programs. Literature reviews report a need for more rigorous quantitative evaluation of garden-based programs connecting programmatic activities to positive outcomes that can be used to maximize benefits and inform policy. School gardens tend to be concentrated in high-resource schools and more needs to be done to bring these experiences to underserved schools.


Garden-enhanced learning School gardens Green schoolyard Children’s gardens Environmental education Experiential learning 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable & Organic Horticultural Food Production Systems, Department of Horticultural ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA

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