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Promoting appreciation of cultural diversity and inclusion with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program

Karen Block (Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Lisa Gibbs (Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Susie Macfarlane (School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Mardie Townsend (School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 13 April 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present emergent findings from an evaluation of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden (SAKG) Program showing that the program promoted appreciation of cultural diversity and inclusion of culturally diverse groups.

Design/methodology/approach

The findings reported here are from the qualitative component of a mixed-method, nonrandomized, pre- and post-comparison evaluation study. Focus groups and interviews were held with school principals, teachers, program specialist staff, parents, volunteers and children at the program schools.

Findings

In a culturally diverse school, the program enhanced the school’s capacity to engage and include children and families from migrant backgrounds. In less diverse settings, the program provided opportunities for schools to teach children about cultural diversity.

Research limitations/implications

Assessing the program’s impact on multicultural education was not a specific objective of this study, rather these findings emerged as an unanticipated outcome during interviews and focus groups that explored participants’ views on important changes to schools associated with the program. Thus, the quantitative component of the evaluation did not assess the extent of this program impact and further research is recommended.

Practical implications

The program may have particular value in culturally diverse schools, providing benefits in terms of engagement of children and families and potentially, in the longer term, associated improvements in learning outcomes.

Social implications

These findings suggest that the program can help to promote social equity and inclusion for culturally diverse groups.

Originality/value

This paper highlights critical equity implications associated with school-based programs’ capacity to include culturally and linguistically diverse groups.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the generosity of the school communities who committed considerable time and effort to participate in the evaluation. The funding provided by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation to conduct the evaluation is also acknowledged, as is the financial support the Foundation received for the evaluation from VicHealth, the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Deakin University and the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. At the time of paper preparation, Karen Block and Lisa Gibbs were supported by the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program.

Citation

Block, K., Gibbs, L., Macfarlane, S. and Townsend, M. (2015), "Promoting appreciation of cultural diversity and inclusion with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 2-9. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-01-2014-0007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited