"Don't Just Come for Yourself": Understanding Leadership Approaches and Volunteer Engagement in Community Gardens

  • Jeffrey Gilbert University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Christina Chauvenet University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Brett Sheppard University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Molly De Marco University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Keywords: Community Gardens, Leadership, Volunteer Engagement, Qualitative Research

Abstract

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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Author Biographies

Jeffrey Gilbert, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Christina Chauvenet, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Department of Maternal and Child Health; Department of Health Behavior, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health; University of North Carolina Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Brett Sheppard, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Molly De Marco, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health; and UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Published
2020-08-04
How to Cite
Gilbert, J., Chauvenet, C., Sheppard, B., & De Marco, M. (2020). "Don’t Just Come for Yourself": Understanding Leadership Approaches and Volunteer Engagement in Community Gardens. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(4), 259–273. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.094.019