India J. Ornelas, PhD, MPH Twitter
Kassia Rudd, MEd
Sonia Bishop, BS
Desiree Deschenie, BS
Emily Brown, MPH
Kevin Lombard, PhD
Shirley A. A. Beresford, PhD


Navajo children are at increased risk for obesity, in part due to limited access to healthy foods. School garden interventions increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables and consumption of healthy foods. Our study describes the development and pilot testing of a school garden intervention for Navajo elementary school children.


We reviewed existing school garden interventions and conducted formative research with students, caregivers, and school staff to inform the intervention. The intervention consisted of a garden built at the school and a yearlong curriculum on gardening and healthy eating. We pilot-tested the intervention in an elementary school on the Navajo Nation.


Formative research revealed the importance of incorporating Diné culture, including traditional growing practices and the preparation of traditional foods into the curriculum. School staff also stressed the value of tying the curriculum to state and Diné educational standards. Students enjoyed opportunities for hands-on activities and snack preparation.


Schools have a meaningful role to play in addressing childhood obesity disparities among Navajo children. School-based interventions that draw on cultural strengths and include healthy traditional practices can be a promising strategy for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.

Source: Health Behavior and Policy Review, Volume 8, Number 3, May 2021, pp. 212-222(11)
Publisher: Paris Scholar Publishing Ltd.