Community Gardens for Public Health

Community Gardens for Public Health

A webinar about how local governments can support community gardens

Local government leaders are in a unique position to promote healthy eating and active living in their communities by supporting community gardens. Community gardens are places where neighbors and residents can gather to cultivate plants, vegetables, and fruits and, depending on local laws, keep bees and raise chickens or other livestock and poultry. Community gardens can improve nutrition, physical activity, community engagement, safety, and economic vitality for a neighborhood and its residents and provide environmental benefits to the community at large.

We have created a set of complementary model land use policies to help communities create and preserve community gardens. Supportive land use policies, like zoning ordinances, can help to create community gardens and ensure their long-term ability to operate on a site. We also have a fact sheet that explains how land use policies can protect and promote gardens.

Community Gardens Webinar
In October 2009, we hosted a training on community garden policy for public health professionals and other healthy community advocates or policymakers. The webinar included a mini-training on our land use policies for community gardens, as well as two community examples of gardens in action. Cleveland, Ohio, has passed supportive community garden policies and provided other resources to the city's network of gardens. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, a faith-based organization, supports several food systems projects, including a community garden for Latino families in Corvallis, Oregon.

Webinar Presentations
Presentation slides are available in the downloads section below:

Note: Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to record the first 30 minutes of the webinar. The recording begins during Amy Ackerman's discussion of land use policies.

Community Garden Benefits Citations
The first webinar presentation mentioned several studies of community garden benefits. These are the full citations.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.

Kien CL, Chiodo AR. "Physical Activity in Middle School-aged Children Participating in a School-Based Recreation Program." Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 157: 811-815, 2003.

Alaimo K, Packnett E, Miles RA, Kruger DJ. "Fruit and vegetable intake among urban community gardeners." Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior, 40(2): 94-101, 2008.

Robinson-O'Brien R, Story M, Heim S. "Impact of garden-based youth nutrition intervention programs: a review." Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(2): 273-280, 2009.

Voicu I, Been V. "The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values."Real Estate Economics, 36(2):241-283, 2008.

Saldivar-Tanaka L, Krasny ME. "Culturing Community Development, Neighborhood Open Space, and Civic Agriculture: the Case of Latino Community Gardens in New York City." Agriculture & Human Values, 21:399-412, 2004.

Kuo FE, Sullivan WC. "Environment and Crime in the Inner City: Does Vegetation Reduce Crime?" Environment & Behavior, 33(3): 343-367, 2001.

Other Community Garden Resources

American Community Garden Association: Numerous resources to help start and maintain gardens.

California School Garden Network: Resources to start and maintain school gardens, including a school garden curriculum and funding sources.

How to Start Guides

Food Sovereignty for All: Overhauling the Food System with Faith-Based Initiatives from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

Starting a Community Garden from the American Community Garden Association

Community Gardening Toolkit from University of Missouri Extension

Food Safety Resources

Fresh, Healthy, and Safe Food: Best Practices for Using Produce from School Gardens from the National Farm to School Network

Five Steps to Food Safe Fruit and Vegetable Home Gardening from the University of New Hampshire Extension

Raised Bed Gardening from the University of Missouri Extension