Sowing New Seeds: Garden Organic

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    Sowing New Seeds: Evaluation Report Garden Organic Elizabeth Bos, Kevin Broughton & Dr Moya Kneafsey June 2013

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    Executive Summary 2

    1.0 Introduction 4

    1.1 Report Purpose 4

    1.2 Project Overview 4

    1.3 Evaluation Rationale and Methodology 5

    1.4 Report Structure 5

    2.0 Quantitative Data Analysis (Questionnaire) 6

    2.1 Introduction 6

    2.2 Seed Stewards / Individuals data 6

    2.3 Schools data 17

    2.4 Assessment of quantitative data 21

    3.0 Qualitative Data Analysis (Interviews) 25

    3.1 Introduction 25

    3.2 Qualitative case studies 25

    3.3 Initial engagement with the SNS project 28

    3.4 Impact of the SNS project 29

    3.5 Assessment of qualitative data 41

    4.0 Final Assessment 44

    4.1 Introduction 44

    4.2 Aims and objectives of SNS 44

    4.3 Final evaluation of SNS Project 44

    4.4 Recommendations 47

    4.5 Conclusions 49

    References 49

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    Executive Summary

    Purpose and Background

    In 2012, SURGE, at Coventry University, was commissioned to independently evaluate

    Garden Organics Sowing New Seeds project.

    Sowing New Seeds (SNS) is a discrete and small-scale project, which began in 2010. It

    aimed to enable individuals, allotment holders, schools and community groups in the

    Midlands to grow exotic crops not traditionally grown in the UK.

    To achieve this aim, the projects objectives intended to: promote exotic crop growing

    and encouraging the collection, safeguarding and redistribution of seeds; ensure skills

    and knowledge of exotic crops were passed on to younger generations and; establish a

    demonstration garden in conjunction with a series of events at Ryton Gardens.

    The projects aim and objectives would be achieved via the activity of participants from a

    range of settings, essentially becoming Seed Stewards. Seed Stewards aimed to share

    seeds, produce, skills and knowledge to others, disseminating activities more widely.

    This independent evaluation thus intends to assess the extent to which the SNS project

    has achieved its aim and objectives, identifying the projects impact, its good practice,

    challenges faced, and recommendations for future development and sustainability.

    The evaluation framework involved the collection of qualitative and quantitative data

    from a range of participants. Quantitative data was gathered via a self-completion

    questionnaire; qualitative data was gathered via semi-structured interviews. This data

    was brought together and analysed in order to evaluate SNS project.

    The questionnaire had a response rate of 31% (42 responses from 113 invitations) and

    five semi-structured interviews were undertaken to ensure each setting was covered.

    Thus, the results are based on relatively low numbers and caution should be used

    nevertheless, the findings offer a valuable indication of the SNS projects outcomes.


    Many impacts for participants involved the achievement of certain goals or motivations,

    including: sense of fun from something different; the need for personal learning and

    development and; desire to share (seeds, produce, knowledge and skills) with others.

    Participant activities involved in achieving these goals has increased social interaction,

    resulting in extending social networks, improved neighbourliness, and friendships.

    In some cases, such social interaction has had a social cohesion dimension, whereby

    people from different backgrounds have come together. For some participants, activities

    have also resulted in improved understanding of other cultures.

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    The vast majority of participants consulted stated that the range and amount of exotic

    crops they have grown and consumed has increased, with most also saving seeds.

    Whilst not a prevalent issue, some participants have reported improvements in health-

    related behaviours and well-being, along with improvements in consumption behaviour.

    Almost all consulted participants will continue to grow and consume exotic crops,

    ensuring the continued sustainability of the projects aim and objectives into the future.

    Examples of good practice include: using Garden Organics existing networks of growers

    to quick-start the project; support and responsiveness of SNS staff; the events offer

    and; the overall impact given the short period of time of many participants involvement.


    Participant reports of reluctance by some people to engage with unusual exotic crops.

    For certain crops and certain times, more detailed information was needed to get the

    best from the crop in terms of growth and consumption.

    Challenges around the engagement of particular groups, particularly young generations

    and those from a BME background, given the profile of the Midlands area

    Issues outside of the control of the SNS project (e.g. the wet summer of 2012).


    Continue with the existing light touch/extending model of support and events, and

    promoting the benefits of this new dimension of growing exotic crops

    Achieving a balance between providing information and enabling learning through

    challenge, for example via a social media blog to provide continued support and

    information to participants in a sustainable manner in the longer term.

    Continue, if feasible, with the well-received events at Ryton Gardens.

    Further exploration of activities to increase social cohesion, including analysis of barriers

    to young generations and those from BME backgrounds, to inform recruitment practice

    Further investigation into the extent to which health and well-being is a motivator of

    engagement or a positive by-product of engagement

    Longer-term reviews of exotic crop growing by participants to monitor sustainability.

    Reconsideration of some assumptions behind project design, such as generational

    knowledge transfer and personal links and reconnections with exotic crops.

    Overall the SNS project has achieved a great deal in a short time, with limited

    resources and should be commended for achieving the majority of its goals.

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    1. Introduction

    1.1 Report Purpose

    The purpose of this Final Report is to provide an evaluation of Garden Organics Sowing

    New Seeds project. The primary purpose of any project evaluation is to assess the extent

    to which a project has achieved its intended aims and objectives. However, more broadly,

    an evaluation can also identify the wider range of impacts that the project has had on those

    involved, noting examples of good practice. It can also highlight the challenges that the

    project and its participants have faced, and provide recommendations for future

    development and sustainability of the project. This evaluation intends to take this broader


    1.2 Project Overview

    The Sowing New Seeds (from now on known as SNS) project began in 2010.

    The aim of the project is:

    To enable allotment holders, schools and community groups in the Midlands to grow exotic crops not traditionally grown in the UK

    To achieve this aim, the project set itself the following objectives:

    To prevent the disappearance of exotic crops grown in the UK, ensuring their growth is sustained via seed collection and safeguarding, redistribution and promotion of growing

    To prevent the disappearance of the skills and knowledge used in growing non-traditional crops, by ensuring skills and knowledge are passed on to younger generations

    To establish a demonstration garden at Garden Organics Ryton Gardens, and deliver a range of appropriate events

    In order to achieve these objectives, it was intended that the SNS project would particularly

    engage with BME groups and individuals, as well as younger generations.

    The key mechanism for delivery of the project would be Seed Stewards individuals,

    allotment committee members, community group leaders, school teachers, and others, who

    would endeavour to distribute and manage seeds, hand out information, disseminate skills

    and knowledge, share exotic crop produce, and show ways of preparing, cooking and

    consuming such crops.

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    1.3 Evaluation Rationale and Methodology

    In the majority of cases where a project has already been delivering, the evaluation of a

    project involves assessing the extent to which the project has achieved its aim and

    objectives. This basic assumption has thus been used as the foundation of the evaluation


    The SNS project is a relatively small-scale, discrete project forming one of a diverse range

    of initiatives delivered by Garden Organic. Given this context, an evaluation framework was

    established which primarily aimed to focus evaluative activity on the key impacts of the

    project, guided by the projects aim and objectives.

    The research methods involved in the evaluation aimed to provide a balance of both

    quantitative and qualitative data. These datasets could be compared and contrasted in

    order to highlight key issues. In agreement with Garden Organic, methods were selected

    which aimed to keep the evaluation focused and uncomplicated. A self-complet