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16. The Impact of Gardening at Twin Oaks: Combining Student Research to Meet a Community Need



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The Twin Oaks Gardens in Neenah, Wisconsin consists of 96 community gardening plots. The leadership of the gardens approached a fellow gardener and faculty member of the University Of WI Oshkosh College Of Nursing to conduct a qualitative research study related to member attitudes and opinions about gardening at Twin Oaks Gardens.  The faculty member recruited three SR I community health nursing students to assist with the project. Students applied and received a small undergraduate research grant through the university with the objective of educating students on the research process.  The faculty member led a qualitative study to identify a better understanding of the impact of gardening at the Twin Oaks Gardens.  The garden membership has grown over the past five years in the number of active garden plots and growth in the diversity of its gardeners with a larger Hmong population.  The garden has become more than a place to grow vegetables and flowers. The garden site has introduced new gardener engagement guidelines for participation with the goal of engaging members in principles of promoting healthy lifestyles and community engagement.  Students learned about the research process in developing a research study, literature review, problem statement development, IRB process, structured interviews, and qualitative analysis and coding. Themes from the study and key concepts related to new garden engagement guidelines will be presented. The information gained from this study will assist the Twin Oaks Gardens Advisory Board in future planning at the garden site.  This research study highlights the opportunity for student engagement with community and public health initiatives related to research needs and dissemination. 

Paula McNiel -
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Jacqueline LaHaie, Natalia Moret
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


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