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Gilbert, Kara Marie (2011). Youth Voices of Bounty and Opportunity: High School Students' Experiences with Food and Community. Thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Science in Education: Educational Leadership and Policy. Portland State University.

Currently, garden-based research does not include input from young adults about their experiences and perspectives as individuals in garden-based programs, specifically those that address issues of food and community. To address this void, this qualitative research examines youth perspectives and engagement in garden-based community projects in Olympia, Washington, and Medford, Oregon. The sample of 11 students was chosen from these projects that use food as a means to engage the community and educate underprivileged young adults about local food systems. The main question that the research addresses is: Why, and in what ways, are young adults appropriate agents for community revitalizing garden-based projects? Using open-ended interviews, field notes and observations, the research draws upon theories of food access, community development, social and environmental justice, and nontraditional education. The findings suggest that when young adults are involved in garden-based community projects, they are learning life skills, developing leadership, engaging in models of nontraditional education, and retaining perspectives of grass-roots community development. It is evident from the research and emerging themes that young adults desire to accept responsibility in their community. It is time to harness young people’s energy, care, compassion, and dedication so that they can act as ambassadors to dispel the class-based ideologies of the current food systems, empowering under-served communities and celebrating youth’s perspectives on food and place. (Excerpt).


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