A multi-case study of school gardens in southwest Montana
Yates, Kimberly Ann.
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Many children today spend little time outdoors exploring the natural world and a great deal of time inside viewing the television or playing video games. This new condition of childhood has many negative ramifications, such as poor social development, childhood obesity, and a lack of feeling connected to the environment. One instructional tool being used by some schools to address these rising concerns is a school garden. School gardens can provide an opportunity for students to experience learning in a real-world application, outside of the classroom walls. This qualitative multi-case study explores three school gardens in Southwest Montana and tells each of their unique stories. Through the process of participant observation, interviews, and the collection of multiple data sources, a thorough description is given of the history behind the gardens, how they have impacted the teachers and students, what challenges they have faced, and the common characteristics found in a successful school garden program. During the data analysis process, themes for each case study site were revealed. The results of this study found that each school garden was unique in character and purpose and that a number of dedicated garden supporters are essential to the success of a garden program. In conclusion, suggestions and resources were provided for practitioners interested in pursuing a garden program.