Objective California Assembly Bill 1535 awarded $US 15 million to California public schools to promote, develop and sustain instructional school gardens through the California Instructional School Garden Program (CISGP). The present study was designed to assess the effectiveness of the CISGP at assisting schools in implementing, maintaining and sustaining an academic school garden programme, determine how schools utilized the funding they received and assess the impact of the California state budget crisis on the CISGP.
Design A mid-term evaluation was used to assess the degree to which schools achieved their instructional garden-related goals.
Subjects Only schools that applied for the CIGSP grant as part of a school district and also provided a contact email and had a unique contact person were included in the study (n 3103, 80·6 %).
Results In general, many schools reported not achieving their predicted goals with regard to the CISGP grant. Only 39·4 % of schools reported accomplishing all of their garden-related goals. Over one-third (37·8 %) of schools reported that their school gardens were negatively affected by the California budget deficit.
Conclusions The difference between predicted and actual utilization of the CISGP grants may be due to a combination of the effects of budget shortfall and insufficiency of the grant award amount.