The aim of the Childcare Outdoor Learning Environments as Active Food Systems (COLEAFS) project is to measure the effectiveness of gardening to support fruit and vegetable identification, liking, and consumption and to increase physical activity in preschool children attending childcare. Funded by USDA NIFA, the project integrates research, education, and extension components. Details of the research design were recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
LONG-TERM PROJECT GOALS:
- Influence childcare regulations to include hands-on fruit and vegetable (FV) gardening as a health promotion strategy (policy and QRIS systems).
- Increase awareness and understanding of early childhood physical activity and healthy eating through hands-on FV gardening.
- Increase the consumption of fresh FV by preschoolers.
INTEGRATED PROPOSAL OBJECTIVES:
- Assess the impact of a Gardening Component on 4-5-year-olds, enrolled in 15 childcare centers in Wake Co, NC.
- Using a waitlist/control group, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) research design, assess the impact of gardening on children’s physical activity, FV liking, FV knowledge, and consumption.
Education and Extension Functions
- Research findings translation