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Food4Families: Health Impact of Community Gardening Places and Urban Spaces

It is widely claimed that active participation in gardening and community food-growing projects can improve the physical and mental health of its participants. Community gardens offer their participants the opportunity to spend more time outdoors and to engage in physical activity.

At the same time, these gardening projects also facilitate urban community building and ‘place attachment’ by helping people connect with their neighbourhood and immediate natural environment.

Addressing mental health problems in urban communities has become one of the primary concerns for spatial planners, policy makers and health professionals alike. Urban community gardens and community food growing projects can offer strategic solutions to urban mental health and well-being issues.

The current four year research project aims to explore these domains by studying food4families, an urban community food-growing project, over a period of four years across four distinct community gardening sites and urban neighbourhoods. This research project is an observational study conducted in co-ordination with Reading International Solidarity Centre and aims to understand the impact of urban community gardens on the physical and mental health of people who take part in gardening activities, and also the effect that urban environments may have in mitigating these health outcomes.

This research project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Berkshire Community Foundation.

Research Team: Richard Nunes (Henley Business School) and Aileen Ho (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading)