"Don't Just Come for Yourself"
Understanding Leadership Approaches and Volunteer Engagement in Community Gardens
Keywords:Community Gardens, Leadership, Volunteer Engagement, Qualitative Research
Community gardening initiatives are popular interventions for health promotion and the development of socially inclusive local agricultural models. The leadership of such gardens is critical for their long-term success and sustainability. This study describes the leadership styles of garden managers, as well as how managers recruited and interacted with volunteers. Thirteen community garden managers were interviewed, and 48 community garden volunteers participated in six focus groups. Transcripts were coded with Dedoose software using a conventional content analysis, which led to the development of thematic clusters in consultation with a qualitative data expert. During the analytic process, codes were refined and added, and three themes were identified: managers struggled to recruit and retain volunteers capable of maintaining gardens; garden managers’ leadership styles were either collaborative or directive; and garden participants emphasized managers’ organization and openness to ideas. Leadership styles varied among managers, and participants acknowledged and appreciated elements of both leadership styles. More research is needed on the impact of leadership styles on other measures of garden success.
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