Uniting Hands, Growing Community, Planting the Future

Gardening - A Holistic Approach to Civic Health

HCG looks to offer a Holistic Approach to Huntington’s problems through a method that looks at Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual perspectives.

The benefits of food production transcend the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual to leave lasting change on others and on the physical and social space of the community.
      - (Shoemaker and Kiehl 2002; Littman 1996; Brogan and James 1980.)

Used well, gardening can be a key element in successful health intervention programs because it addresses simultaneously the physical, mental, spiritual, and social health of individuals and their communities.
      - (Armstrong-B 2000; Herbach 1998; Hynes 1996.)

Physical topics like Health, Nutrition, Exercise and the Environment are significant areas of concern for Huntington, as well as the Nation as a whole, and Community Gardening can be a very effective medium for improvement.

·        Health

1.      When self-identified as exercise by research subjects or isolated by researchers, gardening has been connected to reducing risks of obesity (children and adults), coronary heart disease (for women and for men, notably menopausal women and elderly males), glycemic control and diabetes (adults, elderly men, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans), and occupational injuries (railway workers).
      -          Reynolds and Anderson 2004; Kien and Chiodo 2003;
Beitz and Doren 2004; Reynolds and Anderson 2004; Lemaitre et al. 1999; Pols et al. 1997; Grimes et al. 1996;
Haines et al. 1992; Caspersen et al. 1991; Magnus et al. 1980; Magnus et al. 1979;
Wood 2004; Reynolds and Anderson 2004; Van Dam et al. 2002;
Chau et al. 2004

2.      Social engagement is positively correlated with personal attention to health care and wellness. 
      -          (Greenberg and Schneider 1996.)

·        Nutrition

1.      The full-sensory experience of eating fresh-picked produce and/or the activity of producing vegetables appears to enhance fruit and vegetable consumption among some ethnic groups. 
      -          (Devine et al. 1999.)

2.      Evidence is building that when gardeners and small-scale farmers “save food dollars” by producing their own food, their overall food consumption patterns and dietary knowledge improve. 
      -          (Pothukuchi and Bickes 2001; Pranis 2003.)

3.      Nutrition education through gardening enjoys documented success in changing dietary practice among seniors. Public sector advocates of nutritional health encourage: day care workers to introduce gardening to boost young children’s dietary habits; and community groups to start community gardening projects for over all health planning and self-care. 
      -          Hackman and Wagner 1990; Texas Dept. of Human Resources 1981; Frederick and Holzer 1980; United States Office of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Information Division, 1980.

·        Exercise

1.      The U.S. Surgeon General, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine, recommends getting a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week for adults and 60 minutes of moderately or vigorously intense activity most days of the week for children and adolescents. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of adults and 23% of children do not get any free-time physical activity.
      -          A Nation at Risk — Childhood Obesity Sourcebook - (Physical activity levels among children aged 9-13 years - United States, 2002. MMWR 2003; 52[33]:785-8) and (National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 1999-2001).

2.      Gardening and nature-adventure education in after-school programs increased energy expenditures of 12 year olds by 60 percent. 
      -          (Kien and Chiodo 2003.)

3.      The “exercise” ranges from fine motor involvement when cutting flowers, to aerobic gross motor tasks such as turning compost piles. 
      -          (Brown and Jameton 2000.)

4.      Gardening is a recommended form of moderate physical activity. Community gardening can encourage more active lifestyles by providing children and adults the opportunity to exercise by stretching, bending, walking, digging and lifting tools and plants.
      -          (2009 report on Cultivating Community Gardens, by Local Government Commission, Sacramento, CA - www.lgc.org)

·        Environment

1.      The practice of cultivation improves the urban physical environments as measured by air quality, range of bio-diversity, and soil quality.
      -          health benefits of urban ag - www.foodsecurity.org/UAHealthArticle.pdf

2.      Green vegetation can reflect as much as 20% to 25% of radiationfrom the sun, thus reducing the heat island effect in cities andcooling the climate in urban areas.
      -          Landsberg H. The Urban Climate. New York: Academic Press, 1981.

3.      In the United States, a meal travels about 13,000 miles, on average,before reaching your plate. 
      -          Pirog R, Van Pelt T, Enshayan K, et al. Food, Fuel, and Freeways: An Iowa perspective on how far food travels, fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions. Iowa State University: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 2006. Available at: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs/staff/ppp/food_mil.pdf.

4.      Eating locally produced foodsreduces fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, and a varietyof other negative environmental consequences associated withthe transportation of foods.
-           (2009 report on Cultivating Community Gardens, by Local Government Commission, Sacramento, CA - www.lgc.org)

5.      Garden soil is an absorbent substance that reduces runoff fromthe rain and helps minimize surface erosion.
-          (2009 report on Cultivating Community Gardens, by Local Government Commission, Sacramento, CA - www.lgc.org)

6.      Gardens reduce pollutants in our air by absorbing carbon dioxide.
-          (2009 report on Cultivating Community Gardens, by Local Government Commission, Sacramento, CA - www.lgc.org)

7.      Small open spaces in urban areas provide crucial corridors forretaining native wildlife and supporting migratory species.
-          Rudd H, Vala J, and Schaefer V. "Importance of Backyard Habitat in a Comprehensive Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: A Connectivity Analysis of Urban Green Spaces" Restoration Ecology. 10(2): 368, June 2002. 

Mental issues such as Education and Psychological Health can reap a whole host of benefits from Community Gardening.

·        Education

1.      School garden programs teach a skill and a lifetime hobby that provides exercise, mental stimulation, and social interactions. Children receive practical entrees to biological and environmental sciences, math, geography, and social studies. Additionally, reports show that these advantages accrue to students that have trouble succeeding in school as well as those who excel.
-          French SA, Wechsler H. 2004; Kien & Chiodo. 2003; Pranis 2003; Morris et al. 2002; Morris et al. 2001; Morris et al. 2000; Pothukuchi and Bickes 2001; Lineberger and Zajicek 2000; Predny and Relf 2000; Bellows 2004;
Texas Department of Human Resources 1981. Some school-based research and program reports, of the many,
National Gardening Association,
http://www.nationalgardening.com  and Kids Gardening Program, http://www.kidsgardening.com ;
School Garden Research, KidsGardening.Com,
http://www.kidsgardening.com/Dig/DigDetail.taf?ID=124&Type=faq; Edible School Yard Program http://www.csg.org/CSG/Policy/education/school+health/edible+school+yard.htm.

·        Psychological Health

1.      The field of horticulture therapy promotes plant-human relationships to induce relaxation and to reduce stress, fear and anger, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
-          Sempik et al. 2002; Matsuo and Relf 1995; Relf 1991; American Horticultural Therapy Association, http://www.ahta.org/.

2.      Gardeners report that garden “activity” increases self-esteem, pride, confidence, personal satisfaction, and efficacy.
-          Hanna and Oh 2000; Waliczek et al. 1996.

3.      The beauty gardeners develop enhances their physical environment that in turn advances gardeners’ psychosocial as well as physical health. One study found that access to gardens, along with improved housing fixtures and dwelling type, location and adequacy of housing space was positively associated with how respondents self-assessed their health.
-          Brogan and James 1980; Macintyre et al. 2003. 

Social needs for Empowerment, Diversity Support, and Community Interaction can be met and exceeded through Community Gardening efforts.

·        Empowerment

1.      Participating in beautifying a neighborhood builds a constructive, collective consciousness. The presence of vegetable gardens in inner-city neighborhoods is positively correlated with decreases in crime, trash dumping, juvenile delinquency, fires, violent deaths, and mental illness. 
-          Hurley 2004; Patel 2003; McKay 1998.

2.      Gardeners, especially older ones, feel safe and have a purpose for leaving their households and engaging in a wider landscape; they literally and figuratively broaden their horizons. Adults feel more secure allowing young persons to move freely in safe, green, cared-for, and populated environments.
-          Milligan et al. 2004.

3.      Bringing people together, building community, and improving neighborhoods are some of the reasons gardening empowers its participants.
-          McGuinn and Relf 2001; Hanna 2000; Feenstra et al. 1999; Kuo et al. 1998a; Kuo et al. 1998b; Lewis 1991; Blair et al. 1991. 

·        Diversity Support

1.      Gardens link different sectors of a city—youth, elders, and diverse race, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
-          Predny and Relf 2000; Feenstra et al. 1999; The Food Project, http://www.thefoodproject.org/

2.      Nutrition education through gardening enjoys documented success in changing dietary practice among seniors.
-          Hackman and Wagner 1990.

3.      Health professionals use plants and gardening materials to help patients of diverse ages with mental illness improve social skills, self-esteem, and use of leisure time.
-          Brown, VM et al. 2004; Smith 1998; McGinnis 1989; McBey 1985.

4.      A model for addressing open space needs is Seattle’s “P-Patch” Community Gardening Program, a volunteer group founded in 1973. Resolving to expand opportunities for community gardening, the Seattle City Council and the Mayor decided in 1992 to add it to the city’s comprehensive plan, encouraging inter-agency and inter-governmental cooperation among the school district, the housing authority, and various city departments including parks, engineering, water, electricity, and transportation. The resolution recommended that the P-Patch Program target “low income families and individuals, youth, the elderly, physically challenged and other special populations” because of its inherent “economic, environmental and social value.”
-          COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGH GARDENING: STATE AND LOCAL POLICIES TRANSFORMING URBAN OPEN SPACE by Jane E. Schukoske Community Interaction, pg 39 of 42. http://www.communitygarden.org/docs/learn/schukoske.pdf

5.      Gardens and farms enhance the informal and the formal economies of social environment. The effort to develop and sustain urban food production inside cities builds social capital – trust, civic engagement, the development of community leaders, and the sharing of goods (“vegetable capital”), services, and information. Reports find that low income communities particularly value the community building benefits of urban agriculture.
-          Hinrichs and Lyson (Forthcoming); Lyson 2004; Von Hassell 2002; Feenstra et al. 1999; McGuinn and Relf 2001; Oh 1999; Littman 1996; Lewis 1991; Armstrong-A 2000.

·        Economic Development

1.      Studies report that every $1 invested in a community garden plot yields approximately $6 worth of vegetables. An average urban garden in 1991 produced about $160 worth of produce. A 1996 study claims that 1,900 gardens in community lots on 30 acres in Newark produced approximately $915,000 of food value in one year and almost $4 million over 5 years.
-          Hynes 1996; 32 Blair et al. 1991; 33 Patel 1996.

2.      Food production teaches job skills and offers entrepreneurial opportunities.
-          Halweil 2005; Kaufman and Bailkey 2000; Feenstra et al. 1999; Francis et al. 1994.

3.      Food From the 'Hood, Inc. (FFTH) in South Central Los Angeles was born in the aftermath of the 1992 riots.  Wanting to help rebuild their community, students from Crenshaw High transformed an abandoned lot behind the football field into a two-acre fruit and vegetable garden. They donate 25% of what they grow to people who really need it and the rest they sell for profit.  As the organization grew, the students developed three varieties of bottled salad dressings, which are sold in 2,000 stores nationwide and on Amazon.com — Creamy Italian, No Fat Honey Mustard and All-Natural Ranch.  Fifty percent of the profits go back into the organization to keep it running and fifty percent is awarded through scholarships to student managers upon high school graduation.  To date, over $250,000 in scholarships have been generated.
-          http://www.certnyc.org/ffth.html 

Spiritual perspectives such as returning to Nature and the Appreciation of our green earth can be rekindled through Community Gardening.

·        Nature

1.      Gardeners and farmers “create nature” and enjoy being “in nature” within urban built environments. They work hard to improve the physical environment of their neighborhoods and communities.
-          Armstrong-A 2000.

·        Appreciation

1.      Innovative prison garden programs strive to improve personal health and mental outlook through pride in nurturing the life of a garden and understanding and connecting nutrition and bodily self-respect.
-          Sneed 1998; Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, http://www.hms.harvard.edu/chase/projects/chicago/index.html.