Community gardens as local learning environments in social housing contexts: participant perceptions of enhanced wellbeing and community connection

Tonia Gray, Danielle Tracey, Son Truong, Kumara Ward

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Urban community gardens provide learning environments for diverse groups, including those who may be experiencing health and social inequalities such as residents in social housing communities. Learning to grow fresh food in safe social spaces provides individuals with opportunities to increase awareness of their personal wellbeing and community life. This paper reports on the findings of a research study that explored broader impacts of a community gardening programme on 42 adult residents living in social housing estates in Sydney, Australia. The mixed-methods study design captured participants’ self-perceived benefits of community gardening across six new sites. A final sample of 23 participants across the sites completed both the Sense of Community Index 2 and the Personal Wellbeing Index questionnaires at pre- and post-test (following six to seven months of being involved in the programme). Focus groups involved 42 participants from all six sites. Perceived benefits included enhanced awareness of their overall health and wellbeing, new interest in growing fresh food, enjoyment of shared produce and recipes, feelings of happiness, frequent socialisation and community connectedness. The findings highlight the impactful role of community gardens as effective local learning environments that promote psychological wellbeing and community connection in underserved communities. We conclude by reinforcing the need for sustainable community gardens for addressing social inequality and promoting multiple psychosocial benefits.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)570-585
    Number of pages16
    JournalLocal Environment
    Volume27
    Issue number5
    Early online date7 Mar 2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Keywords

    • Community gardens
    • mixed methods
    • psychological wellbeing
    • social connection
    • social justice

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