Sustainability and Social Justice

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Laurie Ross

Second Reader

Nigel Brissett


Education, Food Citizenship, Gardening, Youth


This research examines the role of experiential garden-based “food citizenship” education for improving school year health and science curriculum retention and to further influence broader social and environmental awareness. Studies demonstrate the importance of these educational models to teach children the processes of food production to consumption. Through new knowledge on food systems education, children will learn to become more mindful and conscious consumers that will ultimately impact personal health outcomes as well as broader global sustainability. Education is a key component to the emerging alternative food network (AFN) that is challenging the modern agro-industrial food system. This research provides a contextual framework for developing an educational program for the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Center’s (SWNIC) five- week summer youth program for low-income youth in Worcester, MA. This program has been developed inline with Massachusetts’s science and heath curriculum standards to improve summer education, reduce summer learning loss, and contribute to food citizenship education for Worcester youth. This program draws on research regarding the current food system, changing food systems models, and educational tools to advance more sustainable alternative food systems. Through the application of the Nuestro Huerto Education Program at the SWNIC, Worcester youth will receive garden-based learning that will ultimately contribute to improved educational outcomes and positive health and environmental awareness.





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