Urban Sprouts plants the seeds of social equity to build healthy and thriving neighborhoods through community and garden-based education.


Urban Sprouts grew out of a doctoral dissertation project (Michelle Ratcliffe, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University) carried out during the 2003-04 school year at Luther Burbank Middle School in San Francisco—now June Jordan School for Equity. Dr. Ratcliffe and her collaborators developed and tested a poly-theoretical, behaviorally based interdisciplinary framework—the Garden-Based Education Model. This model combines the Social Cognitive Theory of behavior change (Bandura, 1986), youth development theory, and eco-literacy models to determine the quantity and quality of garden-based experiences that enable young people to improve their health nutrition and environmental literacy.Dr. Ratcliffe’s research team found that: “the presence of a garden enhances a school’s curricular learning environment by providing engaging hands-on education that reinforces nutrition education. A garden also alters the school’s physical and social learning environments by increasing the availability and accessibility of fruits and vegetables while improving students’ self-efficacy for consuming them by providing opportunities for adults and peers to model the preparation and consumption of fresh and nutritious food.” The research also determined that hands-on group projects build a student confidence, responsibility, decision-making, problem- solving, and cooperation skills.

Since 2003, over 20,500 youth and their families have benefited from hands-on garden learning by growing, harvesting and eating their own vegetables.