Benefits of Community Gardens

Academic Achievements

  • A study of third and fourth graders involved in a school garden and nutrition program found that “the school garden supports student inquiry, connection to the natural world, and engages students in the process of formulating meaningful questions” (Habib & Doherty, 2007).
  • Students involved with school gardens generally take pleasure in learning and show positive attitudes towards education (Canaris, 1995; Dirks & Orvis, 2005).
  • Students who have school garden programs incorporated into their science curriculum score significantly higher on science achievement tests than students who are taught by strictly traditional classroom methods (Klemmer, Waliczek, & Zajicek, 2005).

Physical Health

  • Children who are familiar with growing their own food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables (Bell & Dyment, 2008), and are more inclined to continue healthy eating habits through adulthood (Morris & ZidenbergCherr, 2002).
  • Gardening during childhood exposes children to healthy food, moderate exercise, and positive social interactions and can often lead to a lifetime of gardening (Gross & Lane, 2007).

Social and Emotional Health

  • The school garden serves as a “safe place” for students. Studies show that large numbers of students report “that they feel ‘calm,’ ‘safe,’ ‘happy,’ and ‘relaxed’ in the school garden” (Habib & Doherty, 2007).
  • Children who work in gardens are more likely to accept people different from themselves (Dyment & Bell, 2006).
  • A study of third, fourth and fifth graders showed that students participating in a garden program had increased self-understanding, interpersonal skills, and cooperative skills when compared to non-gardening students (Robinson & Zajicek, 2005).

School and Community Benefits

  • According to Skelly & Bradley (2000), teachers who worked in schools with garden programs had higher workplace morale and increased “general satisfaction with being a teacher at that school.”
  • The study by Habib and Doherty (2000) showed that “68 percent of the students shared what they were learning with family and friends unassociated with the school garden program.” This has the potential for spreading the benefits to a much larger community.
  • The American Community Gardening Association attributes community gardens to an increase in home prices for residences near the garden, a reduction in violent and nonviolent crime in the neighborhood, and an overall increase in the feeling of safety (2009).
  • In a Denver study, 95 percent of community gardeners give away some of the produce they grow to friends, family and people in need; 60 percent specifically donate to food assistance programs (Litt, J.S., et al., 2012).
  •  More than 50 percent of community gardeners meet national guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake, compared to 25 percent of non-gardeners (Litt, J.S., et al., 2011).

Sources

American Community Gardening Association, 2009. Promoting Community Gardening Through Research: A Survey. Community Greening Review, 41. Bell, A. C,. & Dyment, J. E. 2008. Grounds for health: The intersection of green school grounds and health-promoting schools. Environmental Education Research,14(1): 77-90. Canaris, I. 1995. Growing foods for growing minds: Integrating gardening and nutrition education into the total curriculum. Children’s Environments 12(2): 134-142. Dirks, A. E., & Orvis, K. 2005. An evaluation of the junior master gardener program in third grade classrooms. HortTechnology 15(3): 443-447. Dyment, J. E., & Bell, A. C. 2006. Our garden is colour blind, inclusive and warm: Reflections on green school grounds and social inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education 12(2): 169-183. Gross, H., & Lane, N. 2007. Landscapes of the lifespan: Exploring accounts of own gardens and gardening. Journal of Environmental Psychology 27(3): 225-241. Habib, D., & Doherty, K. 2007. Beyond the garden: Impacts of a school garden program on 3rd and 4th graders. Seeds of Solidarity: 2-14. Klemmer, C. D., Waliczek, T. M., & Kajicek, J. M. 2005. Growing minds: The effect of a school gardening program on the science achievement of elementary students. HortTechnology 15(3): 448-452. Litt, J.S., Soobader, M., Turbin, M.S., Hale, J., Buchenau, M., Marshall, J.A. The influences of social involvement, neighborhood aesthetics and community garden participation on fruit and vegetable consumption. The American Journal of Public Health. 101 (2011) 1466-1473. Litt, J.S., et al., Community gardens in the city: A characterization of Denver’s garden infrastructure, awareness, use, and practices (Manuscript In preparation, 2012). Morris, J., & Zidenberg-Cherr, S. 2002. Garden-enhanced nutrition curriculum improves fourth-grade school children’s knowledge of nutrition and preference for vegetables. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(1), 91-93. Robinson, C. W., & Zajicek, J. M. 2005. Growing minds: The effect of a one-year school garden program on six constructs of life skills of elementary school children. HortTechnology 15(3): 453-457. Skelly, S. M., & Bradley, J. C. 2000. The importance of school gardens as perceived by Florida elementary school teachers. HortTechnology,15(3): 439-443. http://horttech.ashspublications.org