Promoting children’s food literacy through farm-school collaborationPromoting children’s food literacy through farm-school collaboration

The PhD project explores the types of cooperation and learning objectives among teachers and farmers in promoting child's food literacy, sustainability competencies and agricultural understanding.

With today's globalized food system, adults and children have become further and further removed from the farms where our food is produced, and we have a limited understanding of how food is produced and processed before it reaches our shopping bag and dinner table. The distance to the producer and lack of knowledge about food production affect our dietary habits and our health, environment, and agriculture and poses ethical dilemmas such as animal welfare and fair trade.

Farm visits can help children understand and gain an interest in how their food is produced and a closer relationship with nature and to food producers. In both schools and teacher education, there is a need to strengthen competencies so that teachers can utilize the potential of farm visits and school gardens, as a form of Outdoor Learning, so that agriculture, food and sustainability become integrated into elementary school curricula. In some educational establishments and schools, this is already implemented. 

About the project and results

As part of her PhD project, Pernille Malberg Dyg studied various factors influencing farmers’ and teachers’ cooperation including: 

  • Cooperation models
  • Motivation  
  • Learning goals 
  • Values 

The purpose of PhD 
The project contributes with recommendations for the development of cooperation between farmers and teachers and with theoretical contributions to the relatively limited theoretical focus on the concepts of "food literacy" and "food citizenship".

The results show that what motivate farmers and teachers to cooperate are the opportunities that students get a closer connection to nature and agriculture and an understanding and interest in food, agriculture and ecology, to in effect hopefully qualify their future consumption choices. 

Farm visits are most beneficial if the teacher prepares students before the visit and incorporates the experience from the visit in the subsequent teaching. Even though there are a number of barriers to farm-school cooperation such as time and transportation, so there are also significant benefits for both teachers, farmers and students. 

The main goals by teachers and farmers are to promote children's food literacy and environmental and agricultural understanding. Other important goals are to contribute to the academic understanding of complex concepts theory and other ways of learning, for example, mathematics.

The greatest academic outcome of Outdoor pedagogy is when the teacher follows up on the farm visits back in the classroom and also later in the education. Findings show that farm visits can promote students' interest in complex concepts and contexts while increasing learning through sensory impressions for both strong and weaker students.

The PhD thesis was based on four case studies of different forms of cooperation between teachers, schools and farmers using qualitative interviews and observations. In addition, the project reviews existing teaching materials available and analyzes international research and practice in the field.


The Ph.D. project was done in collaboration with the Research Group for Meal Science and Public Health Nutrition (MENU), Aalborg University and with guidance from the Department of Education, Aarhus University.


December 2010 - December 2013. Ph.D. defense was done in April 2014.

Research and Development environment and institute

The project was placed with the research environment of Global Nutrition and Health in the Department of Nutrition and Midwifery    


read more on UC-Viden

Research team

Pernille Malberg Dyg

Lektor, ph.d.

Tlf.: +45 24296425


Læs afhandlingen: Fostering Food Literacy and Food Citizenship through Farm-School Cooperation and beyond: Theoretical Perspectives and Case Studies on Farm-School Cooperation and Food and Agriculture Education (pdf)