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The Role of University Food Gardens in Higher Education Sustainability Sydney Klein April 3, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "The Role of University Food Gardens in Higher Education Sustainability Sydney Klein April 3, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role of University Food Gardens in Higher Education Sustainability Sydney Klein April 3, 2014

2 Community Gardens “An environmental intervention that is collectively created and sustained by community members.” (Hale et al. 2011) – Gardens are reactionary Benefits: – Health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) – Social Community Building Civic engagement – Educational “eco-literacy” – Sustainability Indirect Direct *What about on university campuses?

3 University Food Gardens and Higher Education Sustainability Call for “Sustainable” Higher Education Need for sustainability curriculum – Interdisciplinary – Hands-on – Involves research – Incorporated into all systems of institution Institutional Constraints – Rigid traditional structure – Different Perceptions of “sustainable” – Private funding of research How do universities become sustainable?: – Series of incremental and systematic changes – Strong leadership – Networking – Collaboration between small initiatives Campus food gardens

4 Research Questions: What are the demographic characteristics of university food gardens? Do university gardens serve as sites for informal and formal education? What obstacles and benefits occur within university food gardens? What factors affect the resilience of university food garden initiatives?

5 Methods Mixed-Methods Email Survey – Campus garden managers – Closed and open-ended questions Total of 194 Potential Schools – AASHE Total Return Rate: N=52 (27%) Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis – Descriptive statistics – Qualitative coding


7 Findings: RQ1 (Demographics) Strong variability Young Average Size <1 acre Practice sustainable agriculture Student and Faculty have strong role – Initiation – Management – Participation Diverse uses and participation – Focuses: Sustainability Environmental studies Agricultural education Diverse marketing and advertising Heavily reliant on one funding source (69%) – Within university

8 Findings RQ2: Formal Education Quantitative Data – 81% sites utilized as formal teaching sites – 46% supplement classroom learning – 62% offer workshops – 43% conduct academic research – Focuses: Sustainability Environmental studies  Qualitative data

9 Findings RQ2: Informal Education Quantitative Data – Knowledge outside of a specific discipline “Eco-Literacy” – 76% offer tours Qualitative Data – Individual skills – Experiential Education As a result of participating at the garden do participants: (mark all that apply) ParticipantsPercentage Work towards more sustainable lifestyles4381.13% Gain broader life-views from interaction with other garden and/or farm participants4279.25% Broaden their worldview3667.92% Become active in other campus groups with environmental or sustainability focus3566.04% Become leaders in other aspects of their lives2750.94% Become politically active1324.53% Other713.21% None of the above23.77%

10 Findings RQ3: Benefits

11 Findings RQ3: Obstacles

12 Findings RQ 4: Garden Resilience STARS Rating and Resiliency Perceived Resilient Unsure/No Resilient Gold75%25% Silver81%19% Bronze44%56%

13 Recommendations Institutional Support – Inclusion into long-term plans For on-campus location Secured Infrastructure – Consistent Funding Source Full-time manager (with agricultural experience) – Greater Faculty and Administrative Participation *Must assert value of sites (record keeping)

14 Recommendations Increase Participation/Maintain Consistent Participation – Include more academic disciplines – Continual advertising – Collaborate with student groups – Enhance student leadership opportunities Internships Training Programs – Include broader community Markets Workshops

15 Recommendations Networking and Diversification – Diversify funding (increases networking and reliability of funding) – Seek out partnerships within university and outside community All levels Strengthens initiative Amplifies provision of benefits Increases participation

16 Conclusion University food gardens enhance the overall sustainability of their institution Though obstacles exist, they are not perceived as limiting factors Strong institutional support, active participation, and networking create resilient gardens

17 Questions?? Photo Credits: Dania Laubach

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