“Energize your life” virtually: Lessons learned from online gardening workshops

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Virtual gardening classes that started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to attract participants. Little is known about characteristics that improve their effectiveness and enable participants to continue gardening. The purpose of this project was to pilot test a nutrition-focused, virtual container gardening program, obtain feedback on its content and delivery, and identify features that may impact the long-term effectiveness of virtual gardening interventions. Gardening curricula were adapted for a virtual program offering adults five, 1-h sessions. At baseline, participants (n = 12) were very interested in consuming produce (mean score 4.6 ± 1.0 out of 5) and consumed fruit and vegetables at a mean of 2.6 ± 1.4 times/day. There were no significant differences in consumption based on prior gardening experience (p =.6). Participants requested recipes that were inexpensive, quick, and easy to adapt. They suggested resources on storing and preparing produce, garden care, and getting seeds as support. Although the ability to rewatch recorded workshops and participate remotely were convenient, follow-up with asynchronous participants, inadequate lighting, over-watering, indoor pests, and failure of seeds to germinate indoors were challenges. Future work should identify ways to enhance social support and interaction among virtual workshop participants and determine how virtual gardening programs affect produce consumption among those with limited intake.

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Natural Sciences Education



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