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Community gardening

Description and Benefits

Community gardens are accessible to a range of community members, usually located on public land or at a
community service organisation. Their form is usually designed around the community’s desires and needs, but
can take the form of a series of plots which are then used by a family or other group.

Urban community gardens may improve dietary intake and improved access to fruit and vegetables (Joan Twiss et
al., September 2003). Garden-based learning programs, an alternative approach to traditional nutrition education,
are becoming increasingly popular. There is yet little research that assesses the outcomes of these school garden
programs (Ozer, 2006) but emerging evidence from a few small studies suggests that they:
 improve young children’s willingness to try new vegetables (Morris, 2001)
 increase the level of students’ nutritional knowledge (Viola, 2006)
 increase consumption of fruits and vegetables in young people (McAleese, 2007; Lautenschlager and Smith,

Addressing social inequalities in physical activity will require improving access to and the number of recreational
facilities in disadvantaged areas, implementing programs aimed at enhancing social networks supportive of
physical activity, and providing education and skill development for individuals (Kavanagh et al., 2005, Giles-Corti
and Donovan, 2003). Community gardens are one mechanism to meet these objectives. Action to enhance
support networks for physical activity are needed in identified areas of disadvantage in Victoria, particularly
Neighbourhood and Community Renewal Sites (Wood et al., 2003). Community-based social support interventions
that recruit residents into voluntary groups (e.g. walking groups, gardening groups) are effective in increasing
physical activity (Kahn et al., 2002).

When creating a community garden there are two approached that can be taken, bottom up or top down.
The bottom up approach consists of a small group of people joining together, planning the garden, approaching
local council or other authority, finding land and then cultivating it (Grayson and Campbell, 2002; Pretorius, 2008).

The top-down approach consists of professional individuals, such as, community workers and local government
having the idea of and becoming interested in community gardens. From a professional point of view the
community gardens may be to build or improve a sense of community or to improve the nutrition of the people they
work with. A top-down approach may sometimes be easier that a bottom-up approach as existing contacts with
government, schools, churches or other organisations may assist in the process of obtaining land and funding. To
assist a top-down approach in working the professional individuals may want to help raise funding for the project
and to employ a gardening co-ordinator. With a top-down approach, being someone else’s idea it has to be
targeted to the group they believe will use the garden. This may or may not always be successful and may take
some time in doing. Patience and persistence will be required to build support for the garden within the community
(Grayson and Campbell, 2002).

Size and distribution of the problem

General data about physical activity (including available data for Gippsland) can be found at and data about health eating
(including available data for Gippsland) can be found at


A range of agencies could lead the development of a community garden.

Department of Health
Last updated: 8 July 2010
Suggested Partners

 Council for provision of a coordinator, access to land, provision of public liability insurance, financial
support, and support with garden design and development.
 Other land owners/managers to gain access to land.
 Community groups for participation and value adding (eg. art groups)
 Local businesses (eg. nurseries)

Resources for Implementation

Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network and in particular their
starting a community garden guide by (Grayson and Campbell) at

Community Garden Start-Up Guide, (GardenWorks, 2007)Minneapolis, USA

(Australian Community Foods)

(Botanic Gardens Trust)

available at:

Options for Local Government to consider in planning for physical activity and healthy eating environments
(Pretorius, 2008) can be found at

(Kingsley and Townsend) (2006) ''Dig in to social capital: Community gardens as mechanisms for growing urban
social connectedness', Urban Policy and Research., vol. 24, no. 4, p. 525.

(Bellows. AC et al., 2008) Health benefits of urban agriculture Community Food Security Coalition.
Available from:

(North Carolina State University, 2007) Resource materials

Available at:

Evaluation Tools

Methods for measurement of impacts such as levels of physical activity are described at and methods for measuring
levels of consumption of fruit and vegetables are described at

(North Carolina State University, 2007) community gardens resource materials and specifically This
questionnaire is designed to collect data on intervention participants at multiple points in time – but for the
intervention group only. It is worth considering whether you can also collect data from a control group.

Community Gardens also bring other social benefits and you may wish to measure some indicators of community
strength depending on your objectives.

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Australian Community Foods (2007) Find local foods organisations in your state: Community Gardens. Accessed

Bellows. AC, Brown. K & Smit. J (2008) Health benefits of urban agriculture. Community Food Security Coalition's
North American Initiative on Urban Agriculture.

Botanic Gardens Trust Community Greening Program. Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW,
Accessed on.

Brundige, M. E. & Curtiss, S. E. (2005) Four Community Garden Case Studies. University of Vermont School of
Natural Resources, Accessed on.

GardenWorks (2007) Twin Cities Community Garden Start-up Guide.

Giles-Corti, B. & Donovan, R. (2003) Relative influence of individual, social environmental, and physical
environmental correlates of walking. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1583-1589.

Grayson, R. & Campbell, F. (2002) Planning and starting your community garden Network, A. C. F. a. C. G.,
Accessed on.

Joan Twiss, MA, Joy Dickinson , BS, CHES, Shirley Duma , MA , Tanya Kleinman , BA , Heather Paulsen, MS &
Liz Rilveria. MPA ( September 2003) Community Gardens: Lessons Learned From California Healthy Cities and
Communities. American Journal of Public Health 93, 1435-1438.

Kahn, E., Ramsey, L., Brownson, R., Heath, G., Howze, E., Powell, K., Stone, E., Rajab, M. & Corso, P. ( 2002)
The effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity: A systematic review. American Journal of
Preventive Medicine., 22, 73-107.

Kavanagh, A., Goller, L., King, T., Jolley, D., Crawford, D. & Turrell, G. (2005) Urban area disadvantage and
physical activity: a multilevel study in Melbourne, Australia. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59,

Kingsley, J. & Townsend, M. (2006) Dig into social capital: Community gardens as mechanisms for growing urban
social connectedness. Urban Policy and Research, 24, 525.

Lautenschlager, L. & Smith, C. (2007) Understanding gardening and dietary habits among youth garden program
participants using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Appetite, 49, 122-30.

McAleese, J., Rankin, LL, (2007) Garden-based nutrition education affects fruit and vegetable consumption in
sixth-grade adolescents. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association, 107, 662-5.

Morris, J., Neustadter, A & Zidenberg-Cherr, S, (2001) First-grade gardeners more likely to taste vegetables.
California Agriculture, 56, 43-6.

North Carolina State University (2007) Resource Materials. Accessed on.

Ozer, E. J. (2006) The Effects of School Gardens on Students and Schools: Conceptualization and Considerations
for Maximizing Healthy Development. University of California-Berkeley.

Viola, A. (2006) Evaluation of the Outreach School Garden Project: Building the capacity of two Indigenous remote
school communities to integrate nutrition into the core school curriculum. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 17,
233 - 239.

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Wood, B., Swinburn, B. & Burns, C. (2003) Food security and eating well for all in Victoria. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 12
Suppl, S17.

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