In 1999, the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney joined with Housing New South Wales (NSW) to establish a partnership called ‘Community Greening’ to serve the broader community through innovative outreach programs that promote community garden projects (see Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, n.d.). The program has reached almost 100,000 participants since 2000, and established 627 community gardens and youth-led community gardens in NSW. Community Greening also provides mentoring and support for participants, delivers horticulture and Indigenous education, generates opportunities for disadvantaged youth, and promotes wellbeing and sustainability. The model also includes “outreach horticulture” through hands-on learning and capacity building with Community Greening horticulturalists and educators. In 2017, the program was recognised with three honours: first, the Community Program of the Year from Parks and Leisure Australia; secondly, the Australian Institute of Horticulture Award of Merit; and third, the Community Environment Achievement Award from Keep NSW Beautiful. This study extends from the 2004 Community Greening Program Evaluation Final Report (Urbis Keys Young, 2004) and reconsiders community gardening within the rapidly changing urban and peri-urban landscape of metropolitan NSW. In addition to examining program impact, the study analysed the findings in relation to community wellbeing. Wellbeing is understood as dynamic and consisting of a range of domains, including individual, family, community, and societal wellbeing (La Placa, McNaught, & Knight, 2013; Okvat & Zautra, 2011). This framework enabled an in-depth understanding of how community members view and experience community gardening, and its broader impact on health, wellbeing, and sense of community. The project was funded by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust (RBG&DT) and tracked six new garden sites in 2017 in NSW. A pre- and post-test research design was utilised to examine community members’ perceived benefits of community gardens. The purpose of this study is to better understand: 1. Aim One: If community gardening is associated with an elevated sense of community, in relation to health, wellbeing, and participation in low-income communities; 2. Aim Two: If the experiences of new community gardeners and their self-report on the impact of gardening on wellbeing, engagement, and educational outcomes. The research aims were addressed through three key research questions: 1. What is the impact of participation in the Community Greening program on intrapersonal outcomes? 2. What is the impact of participation in the Community Greening program on interpersonal outcomes? 3. What are participants’ perspectives of participation in the Community Greening program? The project aims are also informed by the Measuring Social Housing Outcomes report (FACS NSW, 2016a) and the Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW (FACS NSW, 2016b). Links to strategic priorities relate primarily to 'A better experience in social housing'. Specifically, the findings from this research will inform factors related to creating suitable, safe, and quality housing.
Truong, S., Gray, T., Tracey, D., & Ward, K. (2018). The Impact of Royal Botanic Gardens' Community Greening Program on Perceived Health, Wellbeing, and Social Benefits in Social Housing Communities in NSW. Western Sydney University. https://doi.org/10.4225/35/5ad9684c3e724