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Public Service Research Program

Photo: University and elementary students learn together in the school garden

University and elementary students learn together in the school garden

Project Perennial: Connecting Schools with their Communities through Garden-Based Learning

West Sacramento is a medium-sized city on the Sacramento River experiencing rapid change in growth and development, infrastructure alteration, and expansion of tourism, State-oriented agencies and businesses, urbanization and gentrification. Community members originate from different parts of the world, and many speak limited English and are of low socio-economic status. This collision of cultures impacts immigrant communities in multiple ways, among them are alterations of public space, increased housing values and rents, increased transformation of neighborhoods, changes in job types and availability, and physical and mental health.

Separate university, school, and community projects have occurred in West Sacramento over many years. Through a partnership, called Learning Places, between PSRP, CSU-Sacramento, and the Yolo County of Education, we attempted to address some of the disparate needs of the community. Project Perennial was a collaboration of school, community, and university efforts to develop a sustainable school-community garden model that links nutrition, health and science education, food security, teacher education, heritage preservation, and improved food service to low income students in West Sacramento, California. In the past, school, university, and West Sacramento community members worked separately to meet these many needs. By integrating these efforts to more effectively achieve the West Sacramento community goals, Project Perennial aimed to be an innovative and viable response.

Project Perennial was followed by Project Rescue in which a UCD landscape architecture student in a school liaison role helped teachers in Southport Elementary School design a school garden in an unused corner of the school. The purpose was to create a site for hands-on student learning in environmental sciences, agricultural education, and other curriculum needs.

The West Sacramento schools have also provided sites for our Science Education Outreach Program, in which undergraduates over a number of years have created science activities for classroom or after-school students related to the school gardens.

Project Challenge/Research Question: Developing sustained collaboration among disparate representatives of schools and communities proves to be a challenge.

Liaisons: Arinn Aanderud, Community Development Masters program (2003-06) Daniel Krompholz, Landscape Architecture Dept (2005-06)

Site: West Sacramento, Yolo County, California

Partners: Washington Unified School District; Lorie Hammond, School of Education, CSUS-Sacramento; Deb Bruns, Science Advisor, Yolo County Office of Education, UCD School of Education, and others.

Associated Projects/Research: Project Perennial, Project Rescue, Science Education Outreach Program. Arinn Aanderud, coordinator-liaison for Project Perennial, subsequently developed her Masters thesis on research questions addressing how teachers of English Language Learners engage in community relationships to support students.

Project Time Line: 2003 - 2006

Funding: UC Davis, UCD Center for Food, Fiber, and Futures, UCD Center for Environmental Health Sciences; Yolo County Office of Education.