Evaluating the Potential Public Health Impact of Community Gardens in a Health Disparate Region: A case study approach
Zanko, Ashley Lee
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While community gardens (CG) have emerged as a popular public health strategy to improve fruit and vegetable access and consumption, few studies provide evidence-based principles to inform the initiation and maintenance of CG. Grounded in Community-based Participatory Research and guided by the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) framework, this mixed methods case study explores the potential public health impact of CG in the DRR. Six CG completed harvest logs during the 2011 season. Following the growing season, CG leader key informant interviews (N=6) and CG participant focus groups were conducted (N=21) using a semi-structured script, guided by RE-AIM dimensions. The five RE-AIM dimensions and associated components were used to develop a coding matrix and identify emerging themes. Three researchers coded the transcribed interviews using a deductive approach, which included coding raw data into meaning units. The six CG yielded 811 pounds of produce. The majority of focus group participants (95%) stated they would continue CG participation. From qualitative analysis, themes emerged such as increased the number of residents participating in CG, increased consumption of produce, key characteristics of successful CG leaders and locations, programs associated with CG, and adequate funding and resources necessary for maintenance. This study provides important insights to promote the potential public health impacts of CG in the DRR. Findings provide best-practice opportunities to promote the successful adoption, implementation, and maintenance of CG in similar communities.
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