Research Summary

Community garden: A bridging program between formal and informal learning

Community gardening activities promote relational methods of learning, community development, environmental activism, and cultural integration.

Cogent Education
2016

This article presents a report of an auto-ethnographic and participatory action research study focusing on the benefits of a community garden for both adults and children. The researcher and his family, along with up to 56 other families (including 40 children) representing over 20 different countries and cultures, participated in a community garden program located on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan.

This community garden, known as McEown Park Community Garden, provides gardening space to residents living in university-owned apartments on campus during the months of May to October. The researcher and his family with four members (two children, his spouse, and himself) were involved with the community garden activities for over a five-year period. This report includes a description of the researcher’s learning experiences as he and his family participated in the garden and his insights into the value of a community garden as an informal land-based learning environment for science and environmental education (SEE).

While this report provides qualitative evidence of the effectiveness of a community garden for enhancing SEE, it also documents other ways the community garden benefits children, families, and the larger community. Such benefits include environmental restoration, community activism, social interactions, cultural expression, and food security. Also presented is a discussion of the potential for community gardens to foster multiple types of learning, strengthen connections to natural processes and place, provide a sense of well-being through belongingness, and increase caring among each other.

Citation
Datta, R. (2016). Community garden: A bridging program between formal and informal learning. Cogent Education, 3(1). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1177154