Utilizing a Logic Model Framework to Develop a Conceptual Model for Community Garden Implementation in the U.S.
Community gardens have wide-reaching potential for addressing public health issues. However, of the thousands of gardens located in the United States, many lack rigorous planning and encounter crippling obstacles, like disinterest from community members, soon after implementation. This study created a processual typology to summarize steps in the implementation process for existing gardens described within peer-reviewed, academic journals and offers recommendations for more sustainably planning future garden projects up to ten years in advance. A systematic review was conducted to identify descriptions of community gardens in peer-reviewed, academic literature. A general logic model was used as a basic structure and themes for each step (inputs, activities, outputs, short/long term outcomes, impacts, and methods of evaluation) were summarized from the included studies to construct a processual typology for evaluating community garden implementation in the United States. This typology was then used to assess a case study of a garden in Des Moines, Iowa, which generated the author's interest in conducting this research after assisting with that space through an AmeriCorps community health program. Results showed that existing gardens shared common attributes and could be categorized according to one of two speeds of implementation ("regular" or "accelerated") and according to one of three types of organizational structure ("grassroots," "externally-organized," or "externally-managed"). The typology was assessed for limitations from having been based on a systematic review of only peer-reviewed, academic articles and, referring to its themes, was used to construct a logic model for a hypothetical community garden project. The processual typology developed in this study is limited in its power to summarize all existing community gardens but offers a first step toward informing the creation of logic models for future projects in order to improve sustainability and attain more funding.