An Evaluation of the Fayetteville School Landscape Project

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 3:00 PM
Desert Salon 13-14 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Ann Fleener , Horticulture, Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Carolyn W. Robinson , Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Donald J. Eakes , Auburn University, Auburn, AL
David Williams , Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Robert E. Lyons, Ph.D , Longwood Graduate Program, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Contemporary children's gardening began in 1993 when the American Horticultural Society held its first symposium based on youth gardening entitled "Children, Plants, and Gardens: Educational Opportunities” (Sealy, 2001).  Since that symposium, thousands of school gardens have appeared across the country (Robinson-O'Brien and Story, 2009).   Two such examples are “The Edible Schoolyard Project”, in Berkley, California and the “Growing Up Green Charter School” in Long Island City, NY.  Benefits that have been reported include increases in teamwork, improved nutrition and environmental attitudes, and respect, both for self and others (Edible, 2010; Growing Up Green, 2009).  While school gardens are generally accepted as beneficial, few peer-reviewed studies have been conducted to examine school garden programs (Ozer, 2007; Robinson-O'Brien and Story, 2009). Since January 2009, Fayetteville School (FHS)—a K–12 school in Fayetteville, AL—has been involved in a landscape project that has transformed the school’s campus. So far, an expansive children’s garden and over 400 trees and shrubs have been installed.  Many of Fayetteville’s community, staff and students have been involved in the project, with each of Fayetteville’s 650 students having the opportunity to be a part of planting, while many have been much more involved.  This study evaluated the landscape project using a case study method. Semi-structured interviews lasting 30–60 minutes were conducted with 14 faculty and staff at Fayetteville School. Several themes were observed including an overall positive view of the project, an increase in school pride, and an increase in use of the school grounds for both recreation and education.  Challenges reported included lack of time to maintain the grounds and a lack of time to incorporate the grounds into school lessons.  These results may offer the school insight into ways they can improve the ongoing landscape project.  They may also benefit other schools hoping to implement a similar project, as these other schools can learn from the successes and struggles of the landscape project at Fayetteville.