The current study formed part of a broader NRF-funded project (FIRST-Gate: Food Intake and Resilience Support: Gardens as Taught by Educators), coordinated by Professor Ronél Ferreira. As part of the broader project, I aimed to determine how school-based vegetable gardens can potentially promote the resilience of primary school learners in resource-constrained communities. To this end, I explored the value of school-based vegetable gardens in nine schools and 49 participants in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa that have been participating in the broader project.
For my study, I utilised interpretivism as epistemological paradigm, qualitative research as methodological approach and case study applying certain Participatory Reflection and Action (PRA) principles as research design. I generated and documented data through PRA-based workshops and discussions, observation-as-context-of-interaction, field notes and a research journal, as well as visual data generation and documentation strategies. Following inductive thematic analysis, I identified four main themes, each with related sub-themes. The themes I identified, in terms of the potential value of school-based vegetable gardens for resilience of primary school learners, relate to addressing basic needs, increased knowledge, skills and school performance, personal development and indirect additional benefits.
Based on the findings I obtained, I can conclude that, school-based vegetable gardens can be utilised by schools and/or communities to support the resilience of learners, and potentially also that of their families and the community at large. Based on this conclusion, I recommend that future researchers and facilitators of resilience interventions may focus on similar studies or initiatives, specifically when working in resource-constrained communities.