Health Gardens, Healthy Youth Program

People's Garden

Program Partners

Kids with dirt pailIn April of 2011, USDA Food and Nutrition Services awarded a consortium of four Land Grant Universities the People’s Garden School Pilot Program. Washington State University served as the lead institution in collaboration with Cornell University, Iowa State University, and the University of Arkansas to develop the Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) program. The pilot program ended in 2013.

The project was implemented by 24 Extension educators across Arkansas, Iowa, New York, and Washington. By the conclusion of the project, these Extension educators had collected 86,000 surveys, taken 129,000 lunch tray photos, implemented 4,000 educational toolkit lessons, and planted 6,200 square feet of gardens.

The information on this page is archived content; the project is no longer active. Upon registration, you can access and use the project’s educational toolkit (click here). You can view the research outcomes from the project here.


The People’s Garden, Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth project would not have been possible without the support and dedication of a large team, including:


Local Extension Educators


Keith Cleek, Phillips County Extension; Kevin Norton, Ashley County Extension; Fran Tomerlin & Sara Sowell, Chicot County Extension; Robin Bridges, Union County Extension; Mitch Crow & David Carwell, St. Francis County Extension; Anthony Whittington, Jefferson County Extension


Mary Kramer, West Pottawattamie Extension; Daleta Thurness, Muscatine County Extension; Sharon Wasteney, Debi Ruby, & Cheryl Purdum, Union County Extension; Dawn Dugan, Ringgold County Extension; Sue Cook, Black Hawk County Extension; Kim Brantner, Taylor County Extension; Janet Martin, Johnson County Extension, Karen Pattison, Clarke County Extension, Kendra Crooks, Black Hawk County Extension; Bryan Foster, Black Hawk County Extension; Jacki Luckstead, Jones County Extension, Cheryl Connor-Perez, Woodbury County Extension, Leslie Kauffman, Hamilton County Extension

New York:

Caroline Kiang & Zahrine Bajwa Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CCE) Suffolk County; Mary Lee Bourbeau & Susan Coyle, CCE Wayne County; Amie Matichak & Beverly Bauman, CCE Monroe County; Christopher Logue & Denise Kolankowski, CCE Schenectady County; Donna Alese Cooke, Ellen Spergel, & Cheryl Schwartz, CCE Rockland County; Jeanne Darling & Valerie Dudley, CCE Delaware County


Barb Schreibe, WSU King County Extension; Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension




Central Elementary, Forrest City; Dermott Elementary, Dermott; Eudora Elementary, Eudora; Junction City Elementary, Junction City; Kipp Delta Elementary Literacy Academy, Helena; Lakeside Upper Elementary, Lake Village; Lincoln Middle Academy of Excellence, Forrest City; Noble/Allbritton Elementary, Hamburg; Stewart Elementary, Forrest City; Townsend Park Elementary, Pine Bluff.


Clarke Elementary, Osceola; Dunkerton Community Elementary School, Dunkerton; East Union Elementary, Afton; Eldora-New Providence Elementary, Eldora; Hiawatha Elementary, Hiawatha; Hunt Elementary, Sioux City; Kittrell Elementary, Waterloo; Lenox Community School, Lenox; Lowell Elementary, Waterloo; Madison Elementary, Muscatine; Mark Twain Elementary, Iowa City; Mount Ayr Elementary, Mt. Ayr; Poyner Elementary, Evansdale; Rue Elementary, Council Bluffs; Sunset Heights, Webster City; Walnut Grove Elementary, Council Bluffs; West Liberty Elementary, West Liberty.

New York:

Deposit Central School, Deposit; Downsville Central School, Downsville;Dr. Martin Luther King Magnet School, Schenectady; Grandview Elementary School, Monsey; Hempstead Elementary, Spring Valley; Jessie T. Zoller Elementary, Schenectady; Kelley Elementary, Newark; Lafrancis Hardiman Elementary/Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary, Wyandanch; Margaretville Central School, Margaretville; Perkins Elementary, Newark; Riverhead Charter School, Calverton; Roberto Clemente School #8, Rochester; Summit Park Elementary, New City; William C. Keane Elementary, Schenectady; Yates Magnet School, Schenectady.


Bow Lake Elementary, SeaTac; Cedar Valley Elementary, Covington; Daffodil Valley Elementary, Sumner; Dick Scobee Elementary, Auburn; Fern Hill Elementary, Tacoma; Franklin Elementary, Tacoma; Mary Lyon Elementary, Tacoma.



Tool Kit Development Team

Karen Barale, Youth & Families, Washington State University Pierce County Extension.
Gretchen Ferenz,  Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC
Janet Toering, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Liz Falk,  Cornell University Cooperative Extension
Marcia Eames-Sheavly, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.


Research Team & Assistants

Nancy M. Wells, Research Director, Design & Environmental Analysis, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
Beth M. Myers, Project Manager, Design & Environmental Analysis, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
Lauren Todd, Project Coordinator, Design & Environmental Analysis, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
Charles Henderson, Statistician, Department of Human Development, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
Jennifer Wilkins, Nutrition Adviser, Division of Nutritional Sciences / Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University.

Jennifer Mackall, Kimberly Rollings, Sudy Majd, Eunhwa Yang, Haley Conover, Raechel Schneider, Kimberly Silver, Mindy Ha, Jessica Chen and Bonnie Sanborn Design & Environmental Analysis; Margaret Demment, Ivy Mumo, Alvin Nugroho, Tingting Wu, and Krista Galie, Nutritional Sciences; Sarah Dinger, Helen Ong, Dani Corona, Mallory Stellato,  Biology & Society;Alexandra Gensemer, Human Development; Peter Wang, Nonye Acholonu, Edan Elias, Jia Gao, Nicole Katapodis, Emily Murphy, Jaclyn Vingan, Iha Kaul, Human Biology Health & Society; Buck McBroom, Architecture; Andrew Dunn, Development Sociology; Chris Dackow, Policy Analysis & Management; Aaron Ong, Urban and Regional Studies.


Financial Support

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food & Nutrition Service (FNS), People’s Garden pilot program, Project number CN-CGP-11-0047.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its Active Living Research Program (ALR) (ID# 69550)

The Wellmark Foundation to Iowa 4-H Foundation, Ames, IA (ID# 2011-02-66).

The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF), Academic Ventures Fund, Cornell University

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (Hatch funds) (#NYC-327-465) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (Smith Lever funds) received from the National Institutes for Food and Agriculture (NIFA,) U.S.D.A.

The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, Small Grants Program

Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Intern Program, 2011 – 2014

College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Cooperative Extension Seed funds

The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University


Project Collaborators

Washington State

*Brad Gaolach, Project Director and Principal Investigator, Community & Economic Development, Washington State University Extension.
*Martha Aitken, National Project Co-Manager & WA State Co-Lead, Community & Economic Development, Washington State University Extension
*Karen Barale, Implementation Lead & WA State Co-Lead, Youth & Families, Washington State University Pierce County Extension.

New York State

*Gretchen Ferenz, National Project Co-Manager & NY State Co-Lead, Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC
*Caroline Tse, National Project Team & NY State Co-Lead, Cornell Univ. Coop. Extension-NYC
*Nancy M. Wells, Research Director, Design & Environmental Analysis, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University

Visit New York’s People’s Garden site

Iowa State

*Nancy Franz, IA State Lead and Project Advisor, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
*Karen Pattison, IA State Co-Lead, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
*Cayla Taylor, IA State Co-Lead, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Janet Toering, IA State Co-Lead, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Linda Naeve, IA State Co-Lead, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Linn County project web site
Johnson County project web site

Arkansas State

*Julie Treat, AR State Co-Lead, University of Arkansas Extension
*Laura Connerly, AR State Co-Lead, University of Arkansas Extension
Easter Tucker, AR State Co-Lead, University of Arkansas Extension
*Janet Carson, AR State Co-Lead, University of Arkansas Extension

*Current members

USDA’s People’s Garden Program

The Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth program is a research project within the USDA’s People’s Garden Program

President Abraham Lincoln called the USDA “The People’s Department”. In 2009, on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak declared the grounds around the USDA’s Headquarters in Washington, DC to be “The People’s Garden”. So began an initiative that spread to other USDA properties across the country, and then to community based gardens in all 50 states.

To be a “People’s Garden” a garden needs to follow 3 rules:

1) It must be collaborative (they are not one person’s p-patch);
2) they must benefit the community (food to food banks, or providing opportunities for recreation) ;
3) they must follow sustainable gardening practices.

In 2010, the USDA put out an RFP to determine the health benefits of school gardens – and so began the People’s Garden School Pilot Project and Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth.


This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The contents of this website do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.  Project number CN-CGP-11-0047. usda logo


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