Benefits of being involved in a Grow Community Gardens
Benefits of being involved in a Grow Community Gardens:
- 1. Improves the health and wellbeing of those involved – Many people who come to our gardens talk of the garden relieving the stresses and strains of everyday life. Our gardens are designed to cater for people with a range of mobility and we work together to make sure that everyone can be involved.
- 2. Improves the quality of life for people in the garden – People report feeling happier and healthier through their involvement in the garden.
- 3. Connects people to their community – Many people talk of never seeing their neighbours, not feeling part of the community, having no say in what happens in their community – being involved in a Grow community garden enables people to connect with their community in a meaningful way – one that respects difference and promotes diversity
- 4. Provides a catalyst for neighbourhood and community development
- 5. Stimulates Social Interaction – Many friendships are formed at the garden and there are many examples of care and attention which those involved show to one another – last year one of our participants was away from the garden for a number of weeks – suffering from depression – off their own bat a number of the participant community gardeners made up a box of produce from the garden with a note about how he was missed from the garden. This was brought to his house and he was back the following week.
- 6. Encourages Self-Reliance – We work together to find solutions to challenges in the garden. Everyone is encouraged to make suggestions and undertake all sorts of tasks from making benches, planting trees, pruning tomatoes plants, organising an event to cooking something for our teabreaks the following week.
- 7. Beautifies Neighbourhoods – With a keen eye to transforming contested and disused space, Grow works hard to beautify a space which may have been an eyesore in a neighbourhood. We don’t do this in any convoluted way, rather work with local people to decide what is best, maximise flower planting at the edge of a site, keep hard surfacing to a minimum, plant trees and generally think long term with regard to neighbourhood renewal and biodiversity.
- 8. Produces Nutritious Food – Food costs have risen significantly in recent years. Organic food is often beyond the reach of many, especially those in receipt of pensions, disability allowances or benefits. Being able to grow and cook fresh organic produce makes a real difference to diet and health. Many people who would have limited the range of vegetables they would have used, tend to increase the range and quantity of vegetables and fruit they cook with every week as result of involvement in the garden. Children involved with the project begin to identify and eat vegetables they would have never considered before.
- 9. Reduces Family Food Budgets – Not only do those participating every week benefit from a reduction in the cost of buying food but we have also been able to donate surplus food to a range of organisations including Bryson Asylum Seeker Service. Many asylum seekers receive vouchers instead of money and often cannot afford to buy fresh produce.
- 10. Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and health – The health and wellbeing benefits of community gardening are well documented for e.g. Studies (like the one conducted by Lackey and Associates) have shown that community gardeners and their children eat healthier, have more nutrient rich diets than do non-gardening families • But one health benefit that you might surprise you relates to asthma in children – where a recent study of community gardens in the US found that ‘Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates, because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities.
Gardens can be areas for recreation and exercise. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the “creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity combined with informational outreach” produced a 48.4 percent increase in frequency of physical activity in addition to a 5.1 percent median increase in aerobic capacity, reduced body fat, weight loss, improved flexibility and energy
All of Grow’s participant gardeners report a reduction in stress through their regular community garden participation as well as a general feeling of wellbeing. Exposure to green space reduces stress and increases a sense of wellness and belonging (Bremer et al, 2003, p. 55). “A ten percent increase in nearby greenspace was found to decrease a person’s health complaints in an amount equivalent to a five year reduction in that person’s age”
- 11. Preserves Green Space – Developing and maintaining garden space is less expensive than parkland area, in part because gardens require little land and 80% of their cost is in labour. • Community gardens provide a place to retreat from the noise and commotion of urban environments and can often renew interest in an unused brown field urban site, transforming it into a vibrant, green hub of a local community
- 12. Food Production – Community gardens allow families and individuals without land of their own the opportunity to produce food. Oftentimes gardeners take advantage of the experiential knowledge of elders to produce a significant amount of food for the household.
Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre than traditional large-scale farming.
Local agriculture conserves resources by shortening the commodity chain, saving on fuel demand.
- 13. Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connection – Community gardens offer unique opportunities to establish relationships within and across physical and social barriers including:
- Inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions
- Cultural exchange with other gardeners
- Access to non-English speaking communities
- A recent study found that compared to residents living near barren areas, those closer to green common spaces, are more likely to use them and as a result more likely to interact with neighbours.