Measurement and evaluation
From the outset of any project it is a good idea to set aims and outcomes for the group and individuals involved. These can then be measured and evaluated to ensure the gardening activities is making a difference, which will also influence commissioners and other funders to support your activities.
Starting with a baseline assessment of the aims and needs of the group and/or individuals involved, or that assesses their current health is a useful start for ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
There are many different tools available to help evaluate your project. It is always worth asking existing or potential funders if there is a particular tool or approach that they would recommend. Whilst you can, of course, devise your questionnaire or tools to evaluate your project but it is worth considering the tools already available.
If you do set up your own measuring system, ensure that goals are set following the SMART principle i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
To help decide if an existing tool is right for you, Growing Health has worked with Communities Living Sustainably (CLS) Partnership to create a guide entitled ‘Which tool to use?’ covering the detail of each tool and how to choose. This can be downloaded in full from the website.
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We are keen to hear from anyone interested in or running a project that links community food growing with health and wellbeing or looking to develop this area.