This study forms part of three broader research projects that focus on investigating ways
in which teachers can promote resilience in resource-constrained contexts by means of
implementing school health initiatives, such as school-based vegetable gardens.
Following on a need identified within the broader research projects, the purpose of this
study was to explore and describe teachers’ perceptions of involving different groups of
role-players in school-based vegetable gardens in resource-constrained contexts in an
attempt to understand how different role-players may contribute to successful gardens.
For this purpose, I focused on the experiences of 36 primary school teachers from nine
schools in the Eastern Cape province who have been involved in school-based vegetable
gardens in recent years.
I was guided by Ozer’s (2007) model of potential effects of school gardens as theoretical
framework, utilised interpretivism as meta-theory and followed a qualitative
methodological approach. I selected a case study research design, applying Participatory
Reflection and Action (PRA) principles. Data were generated and documented by means
of a PRA-based workshop, five semi-structured interviews and observation-as-contextof-
interaction, supported by visual and audio documentation techniques, field notes and
a reflective journal. Following inductive thematic analysis, I identified four themes and
related sub-themes. The themes relate to role-players often involved in school-based
vegetable gardens as well as their respective responsibilities; benefits associated with
involving the various role-players; factors that may support the successful establishment
and maintenance of school-based vegetable gardens, and challenges experienced when
involving the different role-players.
The findings of this study indicate that teachers experienced the role that different groups
of people may fulfil positively despite some challenges associated with such involvement.
More specifically, role-players in school-based vegetable gardens can significantly
contribute to the success of such gardens by supporting teachers in developing innovative
solutions to the challenges they face. Teachers and learners were found to be the primary
role-players, supported by dedicated school principals and in many cases, one or two
gardeners that may also be community members. Lastly, a dedicated garden coordinator
(such as a teacher) and support by the national Department of Basic Education were
found to be important.