June 19, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Perhaps it’s the recession but British allotments are flourishing in the most recent revival of the community garden. Increasing numbers of city folk are taking matters into their own hands in the latest quest for fresh, local produce. New research from the University of Colorado Denver shows that community gardening is good for both emotional and physical health; providing good news for green-fingered trend-setters.

The findings come as a result of a ten-year study into neighbourhoods and health to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, and show that the aesthetic experience of community gardening results in positive health outcomes. The research is already published in the May issue of Social Science and Medicine in a paper entitledConnecting food environments and health through the relational nature of aesthetics: Gaining insight through the community gardening experience.” Although a lack of quantitative data is noticeable, overall this research marks a positive attempt to identify what makes allotment gardening special, and, more importantly, whether allotments can be used to improve the health and wellbeing of city neighbourhoods. It is becoming increasingly clear that our attitude to food needs to change in order to tackle the growing obesity crisis. Therefore it is likely that allotments could hold the key for some and, here in the UK, the National Trust is on the case with its Food Glorious Food campaign. Unsurprisingly allotments were at their peak during the food shortages of the Second World War and, although this new lease of life for gardening is by no means driven by the same necessity experienced in the 1940s, there does seem to be an economic link to allotment use. Therefore perhaps with a little help from the humble allotment, tightening our belts financially could lose Britain a few inches from its waistline.