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“It's Changed Our Way of Eating a Lot”: Experiences of Nutrition and Health Improvements After Participation in an Urban Home Garden Program

Palar, Kartika, Hufstedler, Lee Lemus, Hernandez, Karen, Chang, Annie, Ferguson, Laura, Lozano, Raul, Weiser, Sheri D.
Journal of nutrition education and behavior 2019
Latinos, affordability, at-risk population, cooking, data collection, education programs, fast foods, females, flavor, food intake, fresh produce, freshness, home gardening, home gardens, interviews, mental health, messenger RNA, motivation, nutrition education, nutrition knowledge, physical activity, stress management
To elucidate the perceived health benefits of an urban home gardening and nutritional education program in a population at high cardiometabolic risk.Qualitative data collected via in-depth, semistructured interviews in Spanish or English.Community-based program offering supported urban home gardening together with nutrition education in Santa Clara County, CA.A total of 32 purposively sampled low-income participants in an urban home gardening program. Participants were primarily female (n = 24) and Latino/a (n = 22).Perceptions of the nutrition and health benefits of education-enhanced urban home gardening.Bilingual researchers coded transcripts using a hybrid inductive and deductive approach. Two coders double coded at intervals, independently reviewed coding reports, organized content into key themes, and selected exemplary quotations.The most salient perceived impacts were greater food access, increased consumption of fresh produce, a shift toward home cooking, and decreased fast food consumption. Participants attributed these changes to greater affordability, freshness, flavor, and convenience of their garden produce; increased health motivation owing to pride in their gardens; and improved nutritional knowledge. Participants also reported improved physical activity, mental health, and stress management; some reported improved weight and adherence to diabetes-healthy diets.Education-enhanced urban home gardening may facilitate multidimensional nutrition and health improvements in marginalized populations at high cardiometabolic risk.