Sprouting school gardens: assessing the development and sustainable use of school gardens in Victoria




Topley, Aaren

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School gardens are a place to increase food literacy and food system education, empowering students to take control over their own health and food system. The core components of sustainable school gardens use have been identified within the literature. This study aimed to describe school gardens in School District 61 (SD61) on South Vancouver Island and explore what school stakeholders identified as important to supporting their school garden and what elements of sustainable garden integration were present. To address these questions a school garden survey and observation tool was adapted by a stakeholder group from existing instruments and administered to 24 schools in SD61. Sixteen schools completed the survey (response rate of 64%), and there were 22 garden observations conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to explore the data. The analysis showed that professional development, volunteerism, school garden irrigation, courses that allow teachers and students regular time in the garden, District policy were the weakest supported areas for school gardens, while educational material, administration buy-in, garden committee, networks, technical assistance, and garden upkeep were the highest supported areas. Overall, SD61 could offer further organizational and physical infrastructure, resources, and support to strengthen the institutionalization of gardens. Further research is required, specifically on the surveying, monitoring and evaluation of gardens in order to make continued adjustments to program delivery to ensure their use and longevity.



School Garden, School Garden Institutionalization, School Garden Implementation, School Garden Sustainability