Assessment of the Practices and Success of Wisconsin School Gardens
Scaffidi, Donelle A.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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School gardens have demonstrated many benefits to youth, including an increase in health and nutrition, greater interest and performance in academics, increased environmental awareness, and positive social and emotional development. Although there is much enthusiasm and support for school gardening in Wisconsin, little information exists about current practices throughout the state. This research seeks to (1) collect baseline data on the characteristics of Wisconsin school gardens (2) determine the extent to which Wisconsin school gardens are implementing the best practices of a successful school garden program and relate this to perceived success, and (3) gain insight into the current needs of and specific support desired by educators implementing garden-based learning in Wisconsin schools. Survey results of 79 respondents from schools with gardens revealed that the best practices most commonly implemented are in the areas of “committed people” and “funds and materials,” while least implemented are in the areas of “detailed planning” and “instruction and use.” Analysis revealed that best practices are positively correlated to both “perceived success” and “observed benefits.” An assessment of the base-line characteristics and practices of the gardens, as well as the needs and desired assistance expressed by garden educators provided useful insight. The results of this study contribute valuable and timely information towards the efforts being made through the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative to create a state-wide school garden network of support.