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Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture

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Abstract

Health professionals increasingly recognize the value of farm- and garden-scale urban agriculture. Growing food and non-food crops in and near cities contributes to healthy communities by engaging residents in work and recreation that improves individual and public well-being. This article outlines the benefits of urban agriculture with regard to nutrition, food security, exercise, mental health, and social and physical urban environments. Potential risks are reviewed. Practical recommendations for health professionals to increase the positive benefits of urban agriculture are provided.
Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture
Anne C. Bellows, PhD Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Katherine
Brown, PhD Southside Community Land Trust; Jac Smit, MCP The Urban
Agriculture Network. A paper from members of the Community Food Security
Coalition's North American Initiative on Urban Agriculture.
Abstract: Health professionals increasingly recognize the value of farm- and
garden-scale urban agriculture. Growing food and non-food crops in and near
cities contributes to healthy communities by engaging residents in work and
recreation that improves individual and public well-being. This article outlines
the benefits of urban agriculture with regard to nutrition, food security, exercise,
mental health, and social and physical urban environments. Potential risks are
reviewed. Practical recommendations for health professionals to increase the
positive benefits of urban agriculture are provided.
Introduction
This article was motivated by the desire to build greater understanding among proponents of
urban agriculture and health professionals. The authors are members of the Urban Agriculture
Committee: North American Initiative of the Community Food Security Coalition. This national
coalition is made up of a diverse group of advocates, practitioners, and professionals whose
concerns are urban food systems and food security. We work together to move the public policy
agenda towards a conscious embrace of urban agriculture as it affects areas of health, education,
economic development, and urban planning.
1
Our goal is to broaden the connections between
advocates of public health and those of urban agriculture with the objectives of instigating
cooperative discussion, research, advocacy, and practice.
The paper presents research on the practical health benefits of farming in the city, with an
emphasis on studies conducted in North America and Western Europe. The major points include:
The experience of growing food is correlated with its consumption; the more experience
people have growing food, the more likely they are to eat it.
Urban gardening and farming involve city dwellers in healthy, active work and
recreation.
Urban agriculture builds safe, healthy, and green environments in neighborhoods,
schools, and abandoned areas.
At the 1996 United Nations International Conference on Human Habitats in Istanbul, urban
agriculture was formally recognized for the first time for its contribution to the health and
welfare of fast growing urban populations worldwide. Since that time, related research, practice,
1
Community Food Security Coalition’s North American Urban Agriculture Committee 2003. Community Food
Security Coalition, http://foodsecurity.org.
and policy development have blossomed, although an acceptance of urban agriculture proved
faster originally in the global South than in the North.
2
More recently, urban gardening and farming are experiencing a renaissance in North America.
Significant amounts of food are cultivated by entrepreneurial producers, community gardeners,
backyard gardeners, and even food banks, in vacant lots, parks, greenhouses, roof tops,
balconies, window sills, ponds, rivers, and estuaries.
3
The potential to expand urban production
is enormous. One third of the 2 million farms in the United States alone are located within
metropolitan areas, and produce 35% of U.S. vegetables, fruit, livestock, poultry, and fish.
4
I. Community Health: Nutrition and Food Security
Small well-tended plots of land can yield surprising amounts of produce. In a 130-day temperate
growing season, a 10x10 meter plot can provide most of a household’s total yearly vegetable
needs, including much of the household’s nutritional requirements for vitamins A, C, and B
complex and iron.
5
In many parts of the world, urban food produce augments urban food
supplies particularly, but not only, of fruits and vegetables.
6
Urban spaces that produce
significant amounts of food include: parks, utility rights-of-way, bodies of water, roof tops, walls
and fences, balconies, basements and courtyards.
7
Urban area food production can operate at a
for-profit farm scale, producing high quality fresh foods (including protein-rich production) on
relatively small amounts of space that include aquaculture, hydroponics, and greenhouses.
8
Dietary Knowledge and Practice
Practical experience with fresh food – growing, harvesting, identifying varieties in stores and
farm stands, understanding seasonality, cooking, and preserving – positively impacts dietary
habits. An allegiance to homegrown and farm-purchased foods develops when we develop the
skills to transform fresh, raw food into cooked, savory food.
9
This is also an opportune time for
clinical and extension interventions to promote healthy forms of cooking (e.g., low salt and
fat).
10
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.
11
Gardeners generally believe that what they grow is good for them and so they tend to
they eat it.
12
A number of studies show that the fruit and vegetable intake, as measured in terms
2
United Nations World Health Organization, WHO 2001; Bakker et al. 2000; United Nations, FAO 2000; Maxwell
et al. 1998; Smit 1996; Smit et al. 1996.
3
Brown and Carter 2003.
4
Kaufman and Bailkey 2000; Smit et al. 1996; Sommers and Smit, 1994.
5
Patel 1996; Sommers and Smit 1994.
6
(UNFAO), http://www.fao.org/urbanag/default.asp; Smit, et al. 1996; Bellows 1996; Bellows and Hamm 2003.
7
Dunnett and Kingsbury 2004; Pilcher 2002.
8
Resh 2001; Koc 1999; Smit et al. 1996; Olson 1994; Nicholls 1990.
9
Wells and Gradwell 2001; Ohri-Vachaspati and Warrix 1999.
10
Martinez-Salgado et al. 1993; Ohri-Vachaspati and Warrix 1999.
11
Pothukuchi and Bickes 2001; Pranis 2003.
12
Armstrong-A 2000; Lackey & Associates 1998; Patel 1996.
of recommended servings per day, is higher among gardeners than among non-gardeners in the
same study,
13
or among gardeners versus the average U.S. consumer
14
. In a 1991 study,
gardeners ate more vegetables more frequently and they consumed less sweet foods and soft
drinks as compared to a non-gardener control group.
15
Research shows that new gardeners increase vegetable more than fruit consumption.
16
This may
be because vegetables are relatively easy to grow, benefiting the U.S. diet that particularly lacks
leafy green and yellow vegetables.
17
Fruits generally take more room and time to grow than do
vegetables. Berries, however, can be somewhat simpler to introduce than orchard crops, thus
providing the fruit sub-group identified as most underrepresented in the U.S. diet.
18
“Truck
farming” traditionally exists in peri-urban environments and specializes in those under-consumed
foods, the leafy greens, yellow vegetables, and berries. Farms on the urban fringe are threatened
by development. The potential loss of the farms and their capacity to supply the nutritional
needs of concentrated urban populations should be of concern to health practitioners.
Land and water livestock provide existing and potential protein resources for urban area
populations. The production of pasture and free range poultry is increasing within daily delivery
of urban centers and mobile poultry processing plants are becoming more common. Urban
production, processing, and distribution of micro- and small-scale livestock – including goat,
sheep, and rabbit -- is increasing rapidly. Farm fish was the most rapidly growing industry in the
world during the 1990s and much of that growth was in and near cities.
19
Nutrition education through gardening enjoys documented success in changing dietary practice
among seniors.
20
Public sector advocates of nutritional health encourage: a) day care workers to
introduce gardening to boost young children’s dietary habits
21
; and b) community groups to start
community gardening projects for over all health planning and self-care
22
.
Home gardening and nutrition education has been shown to boost micro-nutrient intake in many
countries and can be considered as additional intervention models applicable to the North
American region. Studies describe nutrition education programs that include home gardening
components to balance diets and variously boost serum retinol, vitamin A, iron, and iodine in
rural South Africa
23
, India
24
, Bangladesh
25
, Indonesia
26
, Mexico
27
, and The Philippines
28
.
13
Armstrong-A 2000; Lackey & Associates 1998; Pothukuchi and Bickes 2001.
14
Giordano et al. 1998.
15
Blair et al. 1991. Cf. Lineberger and Zajicek 2000; Pothukuchi and Bickes 2001.
16
Lineberger and Zajicek 2000.
17
McNamara 1999.
18
Kantor 1998; Peters et al. 2002; O’Brien 1995.
19
Kilgannon 2004.
20
Hackman and Wagner 1990.
21
Texas Dept. of Human Resources 1981; Frederick and Holzer 1980.
22
United States Office of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Information Division, 1980.
23
Faber et al. 2002.
24
Vijayaraghavan 2002.
25
Ahmed 1999.
26
de Pee et al. 1998.
27
Martinez-Salgado et al. 1993.
28
Anonomous-A. 1993.
Saving Food Dollars
Fruits and vegetables are low calorie and “nutrient dense” foods. Limited income households,
however, tend to focus their buying power on bulk foods that fill them up.
29
Community and
residential gardening, as well as small-scale farming, save household food dollars. They
promote nutrition and free cash for non-garden foods and other items
30
. Studies report that
every $1 invested in a community garden plot yields approximately $6 worth of vegetables.
31
An average urban garden in 1991 produced about $160 worth of produce.
32
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.
33
Emergency food providers typically have relatively greater access to breads, cereals, and canned
goods and suffer a chronic shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables and of proteins (fish, fowl, and
meat; fresh, frozen, and canned).
34
Through garden donation projects like Plant-a-Row, urban
food production saves food bank resources required to obtain needed food and further, provides
precisely those foods rarely donated by retailers, restaurants, processors, and other suppliers.
35
Fresh and Local
Numerous studies show that gardeners and those who buy directly from local farmers identify
wanting fresh produce as an important reason why they grow their own food and purchase
locally grown products.
36
This is partly a function of taste, which some name as the most
important lever to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
37
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.
38
Studies that report relationships
between freshness and health are beginning to appear in the literature. For example, it has been
shown that a 5-10 day transportation and storage lag between production and consumption leads
to losses of 30-50% in some nutritional constituents.
39
Gardeners report that they increase their fresh produce consumption because the same foods they
grow are not (equally) accessible to them for many different reasons: the retail price is too high;
local stores offer inadequate selections of produce; the food they grow and prefer has an ethnic
or regional character that is not available at local stores.
40
When farmers and consumers meet
face-to-face they learn about each other’s needs, for example, the desire for vegetables not
commonly available. Direct marketing improves the producer-consumer relationship and
maximizes opportunities and interest in increased consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.
29
Lin et al. 2005; Drewnowski and Spencer 2004; Levine et al. 2003; Morgan et al. 1985; Peterkin and Hama 1983.
30
Kaufman and Bailkey 2000; Herbach 1998; Lackey & Associates 1998; Sommers and Smit 1994.
31
Hynes 1996.
32
Blair et al. 1991.
33
Patel 1996.
34
Poppendieck 1999.
35
Wilson 2001.
36
Armstrong-A 2000; Giordano et al. 1998; Hanna 1999; Lackey & Associates 1998; Patel 1996; Patel 1991;
Ramirez 1995; Salvidar-Tanaka 2002.
37
Morris et al. 2001.
38
Devine et al. 1999.
39
Shewfelt, RL 1990a, 1990b; Klein 1987.
40
Salvidar-Tanaka 2002; Hanna 1999; Hynes 1996; Feenstra et al. 1999; Ramirez 1995.
Community Food Security
Urban agriculture contributes to community food security.
41
Times of war and conflict render
tenuous our dependence on distant food sources, especially in this post-9/11 world.
42
A local
agri-food system provides a relatively secure and more locally controlled source of food. Better
interaction between local consumers and farmers increases awareness of local food options.
Enhanced communication also augments knowledge and commitment to healthy, sustainable,
and secure food products and practices.
43
Urban gardening contributes to local food security. Gardeners report that sharing food with
friends, families, neighbors, and/or needy members of their community in need is one of the
important reasons that they grow produce.
44
This generosity has been organized into programs
that maximize contributions to soup kitchens and pantries, for example, through the “plant-a-
row” project that encourages gardeners to set aside a specific space for donations.
45
Strategies to buy locally have surged.
46
States and regions have instituted “buy local” policies.
47
Community supported agriculture (CSA) has linked buyer collectives with local farmers; some
CSAs strive to make opportunities available to low-income groups.
48
Local farmers are in such
demand that many large and small towns now compete to have farmers participate in their
farmers markets.
49
Low income group access to fresh and local produce is increasingly
addressed.
50
U.S. federal programs encourage direct marketing of fresh produce through farm
stands and farmers markets. Many of these programs also incorporate voucher and electronic
benefits transfer (EBT) redemption programs
51
at the markets to augment fruit and vegetable
consumption in vulnerable population groups -- seniors, low-income, and single parent families.
Through donations and gleaning opportunities, urban area farmers contribute to urban food
banks and emergency food assistance programs.
52
II. Community Health: Lifelong Active Lifestyles and Personal Wellness
Urban agriculture benefits both individuals and neighborhoods, and thus contributes to overall
community health.
53
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
41
Koc et al. 1999;Bellows and Hamm 2003; Hamm and Bellows 2003; Mann 2001.
42
Wilkins 2004; United States Food and Drug Administration 2003, http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fssrep.html.
43
Cohen et al. 2004.
44
Saldivar-Tanaka 2003; Von Hassell 2002; Hanna 1999; Giordano and Tam 1998; Patel 1996; Hynes 1996.
45
“Plant-a-Row” Project; http://www.gardenwriters.org/par/
46
Hinrichs and Lyson (eds., Forthcoming).
47
Barham 2003, http://www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/.
48
Hunger Action Network of New York State 2005, 2004.
49
Knox and Feenstra 2004 (working draft); Gradwell, et al. [no date].
50
Fisher 1999.
51
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2004; USDA Food Stamp Program,
http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/; USDA, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/FMNPfaqs.htm; and USDA, EBT Farmers' Market Demonstration Project
http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/ebt/ebt_farmers_markstatus.htm.
52
Hoisington et al. 2001; Lazarus 2000.
53
See early review of health benefits of urban agriculture in a special issue of Urban Agriculture Magazine. 2001.
social space of the community.
54
Gardening is a lifetime activity, and its health advantages span
generations of gardeners. It is associated with satisfying labor, physical and mental relaxation,
socializing, and a means to produce food and beauty. 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.
55
For many, farming is a labor of love as well as a source of income. In recognition of the
financial potential of farming, a number of programs now exist to expand opportunities to new
farmers – many of whom are based in peri-urban environments – who have difficulty with start
up costs. These programs promote community wellness: clean, open space landscapes, access to
local fresh foods, and healthy local economies with local economic multiplier effects. Some
programs specifically target immigrant communities, many of whose members come to North
America with extensive farming knowledge and experience. These individuals often find great
personal satisfaction in returning to farm operations and they typically grow crops and raise
livestock wanted by their ethnic peers; foods that may otherwise be difficult to find.
56
Exercise
Gardening and food production is good exercise. Health professionals and others, however,
often undervalue its exercise-related health benefits. Garden enthusiasts and farmers themselves
rarely compartmentalize their labors as “exercise.” The “exercise” ranges from fine motor
involvement when cutting flowers, to aerobic gross motor tasks such as turning compost piles.
57
Gardeners report that garden “activity” increases self-esteem, pride, confidence, personal
satisfaction, and efficacy.
58
Research that addresses gardening generally unravels the holistic advantages of gardening from
“exercise.” Many studies bundle walking, bicycling, taking the stairs, and gardening together as
undervalued forms of exercise. When self-identified as exercise by research subjects or isolated
by researchers, gardening has been connected to reducing risks of obesity (children and adults)
59
,
coronary heart disease (for women and for men, notably menopausal women and elderly
males),
60
glycemic control and diabetes (adults, elderly men, Mexicans and Mexican-
Americans)
61
, and occupational injuries (railway workers).
62
Gardening can expend little or intensive amounts of energy. Even moderate forms of garden
exercise increase muscle strength and endurance in activity-reduced persons including pregnant
54
Shoemaker and Kiehl 2002; Littman 1996; Brogan and James 1980.
55
Armstrong-B 2000; Herbach 1998; Hynes 1996.
56
Growing New Farmers, http://gnf.bigmindcatalyst.com/cgi/bmc.pl?page=pubpg1.html&node=1010; World
Hunger Year, Food Security Learning Center, http://www.worldhungeryear.org/fslc/; New England LAND LINK,
http://www.smallfarm.org/nell/nell.html.
57
Brown and Jameton 2000.
58
Hanna and Oh 2000; Waliczek et al. 1996.
59
Reynolds and Anderson 2004; Kien and Chiodo 2003.
60
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.
61
Wood 2004; Reynolds and Anderson 2004; Van Dam et al. 2002.
62
Chau et al. 2004.
women, cancer survivors, and those generally sedentary.
63
Gardening and nature-adventure
education in after-school programs increased energy expenditures of 12 year olds by 60
percent.
64
Research shows that gardening is a preferred form of exercise across age, gender, and ethnicity.
65
Overall, older persons do more gardening than younger ones.
66
Research does not always
capture gardening as exercise, because some gardeners perceive it as part of a day’s leisure or
labor activities and not a separate activity in the category of “exercise.” In one study, men
identified gardening as “exercise” more often than did women though women and men reported
similar amounts of time gardening.
67
Many women may associate gardening with gendered
household food-related chores rather than exercise.
The beneficial effects of outdoor activity and exposure to sunlight need more research. Sunlight
could influence susceptibility to a number of chronic diseases. For example, sunlight deficiency
may increase blood cholesterol. One study shows that gardening is associated with lower blood
cholesterol during the summer growing season but not in the winter.
68
Mental Health
Working with plants and in the outdoors benefits the mental health, mental outlook, and personal
wellness of individuals.
69
Cultivation activities trigger both illness prevention and healing
responses. 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.
70
The field of
horticulture therapy promotes plant-human relationships to induce relaxation and to reduce
stress, fear and anger, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
71
Given the literature on positive
outcomes of plant-human relationships, the American Community Gardening Association has
expressed surprise that more gardens have not been dedicated to mental health and rehabilitative
intervention.
72
III. Community Health: Building Safe, Healthy, and Green Environments
Urban environments have the capacity to integrate our need to live in a balance of built and open
spaces. Constructing green zones is important for a robust city as building housing, service
infrastructure, and industrial and commercial spaces. Community and educational land
dedicated to food production encourages participation in the vigor of a positive urban
63
Evenson KR, et al. 2004; Irwin 2004; Rolland et al. 2004; Wannamethee and Shaper 2001; Wannamethee et al.
2000; Anonomous-B 1995.
64
Kien and Chiodo 2003.
65
Wood 2002; Crespo et al. 1996.
66
Wood 2002; cf. Krems et al. 2004.
67
Armstrong-A 2000.
68
Grimes et al. 1996.
69
Brown, VM et al. 2004; Matsuo and Relf 1995; THRIVE, Using Gardening to Change Lives,
http://www.thrive.org.uk/.
70
Brown, VM et al. 2004; Smith 1998; McGinnis 1989; McBey 1985.
71
Sempik et al. 2002; Matsuo and Relf 1995; Relf 1991; American Horticultural Therapy Association,
http://www.ahta.org/.
72
American Community Gardening Association 1998.
environment. The practice of cultivation improves the urban physical environments as measured
by air quality, range of bio-diversity, and soil quality.
Social Life in Urban Neighborhoods
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.
73
Bringing people together, building community, and
improving neighborhoods are some of the reasons gardening empowers its participants.
74
Social
engagement is positively correlated with personal attention to health care and wellness.
75
Food
production teaches job skills and offers entrepreneurial opportunities.
76
Reports find that low-
income communities particularly value the community building benefits of urban agriculture.
77
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.
78
Urban community gardens and farms help overcome social, health, and environmental justice
challenges.
79
Safe and pleasant neighborhoods promote active lifestyles and outdoor exercise
that counteract the physical passivity associated with the obesity epidemic. 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.
80
Gardens link
different sectors of a city—youth, elders, and diverse race, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
81
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.
82
Adults
feel more secure allowing young persons to move freely in safe, green, cared-for, and populated
environments.
Urban Agriculture in Schools
Extensive and mounting evidence shows that school-based garden programs have significant
health effects on young people. In these non-traditional learning labs, youth become familiar
with good and healthy food, especially the fruits and vegetables critical to reducing obesity and
chronic diseases. It is precisely these foods that are missing from our children’s usual diets.
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
73
Hinrichs and Lyson (Forthcoming); Lyson 2004; Von Hassell 2002; Feenstra et al. 1999; McGuinn and Relf 2001;
Oh 1999; Littman 1996; Lewis 1991.
74
McGuinn and Relf 2001; Hanna 2000; Feenstra et al. 1999; Kuo et al. 1998a; Kuo et al. 1998b; Lewis 1991; Blair
et al. 1991.
75
Greenberg and Schneider 1996.
76
Halweil 2005; Kaufman and Bailkey 2000; Feenstra et al. 1999; Francis et al. 1994.
77
Armstrong-A 2000.
78
Sneed 1998; Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods,
http://www.hms.harvard.edu/chase/projects/chicago/index.html..
79
Von Hassell 2002.
80
Hurley 2004; Patel 2003; McKay 1998.
81
Predny and Relf 2000; Feenstra et al. 1999; The Food Project, http://www.thefoodproject.org/.
82
Milligan et al. 2004.
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.
83
Farm-to-school and farm-to–college programs establish market relationships with local farms to
secure the freshest and in season fruits, vegetables, and other products for consumption in school
and college cafeterias. These programs reflect a grassroots endeavor by parents, teachers, school
health officials, students, farmers, and others. Their efforts counter a trend to offer students fast
food and highly processed menus in schools –the very foods linked to the obesity epidemic. At
the national, state, and municipal levels, the public sector is joining grassroots organizers to
develop policy and pass legislation to enable and promote farm-to-school or farm-to-college
programs.
84
A schoolyard garden can deliver produce to its school’s cafeteria in order to provide an
exceedingly dynamic linkage between nutrition, education, and learned behaviors. Such a
program exists in the Berkeley, California school system and represents a progression from
already functioning schoolyard gardens and a successful farm-to-school program to new
curriculum development that benefits the health and education of its students.
85
Growing Urban Green Zones
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.
86
The beauty gardeners develop enhances their physical environment that in turn
advances gardeners’ psychosocial
87
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.
88
Urban area gardens and farms improve air quality. On the local level, plant foliage reduces
carbon dioxide, ozone concentrations (heavy, low-lying gas), and lowers urban mass
temperatures.
89
On a more macro scale, locally grown food reduces the present average of 1300
83
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.
84
Brillinger et al. 2003; Farm-to-School Program, Community Food Security Coalition,
http://foodsecurity.org/farm_to_school.html; Farm-to-College Program, Community Food Security Coalition,
http://foodsecurity.org/farm_to_college.html.
85
Edible School Yard Program, http://www.csg.org/CSG/Policy/education/school+health/edible+school+yard.htm.
86
Armstrong-A 2000.
87
Brogan and James 1980.
88
Macintyre et al. 2003.
89
Akbari et al. 1988; City of Toronto 1998; Heissler et al. 1995; Bernatzky 1983; EPA-NASA Urban Heat Island
Project, http://www.ghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/uhipp/urban_uhipp.html.
miles that our food travels from “field to plate.” Growing (and buying) locally is fuel efficient,
less polluting, and has a relevant and substantial impact on our health.
90
Urban gardens and farms increase urban bio-diversity. They attract beneficial soil
microorganisms, insects, birds, reptiles, and animals. Gardens play a role in species preservation
for birds and butterflies by providing food, resting spaces, and protection along migratory flight
paths.
91
Urban food production improves urban and urban fringe soils. Rooted plants stabilize the
ground and reduce soil erosion. Cared-for soils absorb rainfall that then does not run over
exposed, compacted dirt and pavement absorbing toxic debris and dumping it into storm drains.
Urban compost systems can transform significant amounts of a city’s waste (organic waste from
yards, parks, food establishments, etc.) for beneficial re-use.
92
IV. Community Health: Planning for Potential Health Risks
Heavy Metals
Many urban residents are challenged by soils containing toxic levels of heavy metals including
lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel, and copper. The type of heavy metal depends on the source:
paint, gas or oil, waste incineration, lead pipes, specific industries, etc. Dangers include direct
absorption of toxics through ingestion (breathing and swallowing, the latter especially by
children with their hands in their mouths) and indirect consumption through foods grown on the
land that may have absorbed the toxics. Particularly in older cities, it is crucial to test soils for
lead before growing food or even before allowing small children to enter and play in the garden
spaces.
Appropriate gardening practices reduce risk. Strategies include: 1) improving soil stability
through crop plantings and soil amendments like mulch, thereby reducing wind-born dust and the
tracking of contaminated soils into residences by human feet and household pets; 2) emphasizing
the cultivation of fruiting plants (including vegetables like peppers and eggplants) rather than
green leafy vegetables and tubers because the latter absorb heavy metals about ten times faster
than do fruiting plants; 3) adding compost and/or calcium to the soil to lower soil acidity and
thus reducing the potential of metal “uptake” by plants; 4) growing ornamentals (for beauty,
exercise, healthy cities) and not edibles; 5) using phytoremediation whereby highly absorptive
plants are cultivated to “take up” heavy metals from the soils (This practice is, however,
problematic in terms of disposal of contaminated plants). Raised beds, container gardens, and
hydroponics additionally circumvent many contamination problems.
93
90
Jules et al. 2005; Roberts 2005; Pirog and Benjamin 2003; Jones 2002.
91
Towle1996; Biodiversity Science Assessment Team 1994; The BUGS Project, Biodiversity in Urban Gardens in
Sheffield, http://www.shef.ac.uk/uni/projects/bugs/; Urban Biodiversity; Urban Ecology and Urban Sustainable
Environment, http://bch-cbd.naturalsciences.be/belgium/links/themes/urban.htm.
92
Locke 2004; BioCycle 1999; San Francisco, Department of Environment, Composting Page,
http://temp.sfgov.org/sfenvironment/aboutus/recycling/compost.htm; California, Food Scraps Management,
http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/foodwaste/.
93
Hamel and Heckman 2003; Lock and Veenhuizen 2001; Litt et al. 2002; Xintaras 1992; Bellows 2000; Bellows
1999; Bellows 1996; US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC 1991; Lepp 1981.
Air pollution
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a known carcinogen, have been found in urban soils.
PAHs are residues from incomplete combustion. They may exist in gardens and other urban
soils due to vehicle pollution from adjacent roads and railways, past wood or coal burning on or
near the site, or the extensive use of creosote railroad ties as garden plot dividers during the
1970s & 80s. Little is known about them, but basic research has begun.
94
Other Potential Risks
Other potential risks associated with urban gardening and farming require common sense
strategies. Standing water can attract bugs, including mosquitoes carrying diseases like West
Nile virus. Gardens and farms that rely on water catchment systems need to take simple
precautions like covering standing water or seeking access to public water mains. Use of
incompletely composted animal manures can spread diseases, however proper composting is
simple to learn and implement. Standard and common sense safety measures are necessary with
the use of heavy or sharp garden tools, especially around small children. Proper ergonomic use
of tools lessens the risk of muscle strain. Reducing exposure from direct sunlight (hats, sun
block, less gardening in the middle of the day) protects from sunburn and vulnerability to skin
cancer.
Recommendations for Health Professionals
Health professionals can increase the positive benefits of urban agriculture in many ways. Here
are a few suggestions:
Cultivate a Healing Garden on idle land at your health department, medical office,
hospital, or long-term care facility. The garden will provide serenity, food, and education
about the therapeutic and preventative benefits of specific vegetables and of gardening.
Encourage patients/clients to grow their own vegetables at home, as a therapeutic means
for enhancing nutrition, physical exercise, and relaxation.
Encourage patients/clients to shop at farmers’ markets and/or join a vegetable-box
subscription (sometimes called a Community Supported Agriculture, CSA) program to
increase their access to fresh vegetables and fruits, and to support local farmers.
Introduce the subject of public health and urban agriculture to your professional
association to exchange ideas and find out what your colleagues know about the subject.
Work with local planners and policy makers to establish new community gardens,
preserve open space and market structures that secure urban food production in and near
urban areas.
Encourage State health departments to adopt the option of WIC redemptions at farmers
markets and CSAs.
Encourage local farmers markets and CSAs to incorporate mechanisms and support to
accept emergency food assistance including food stamp benefits through EBT, and WIC
and Senior FMNP coupons.
94
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html
Provide financial support for community-based gardening projects such as youth garden
initiatives and community gardening.
Support the national 'farm to school' movement.
Envision and help to plan and implement a local farms-to-hospital program.
Support a ''Garden at every school" program like the successful model in California.
Support 'edible buildings', green building' and 'vertical agriculture' programs.
Join the Community Food Security Coalition to partner with the broad swath of active
and engaged food and nutrition practitioners dedicated to building strong, sustainable,
local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally
appropriate food for all people at all times.
For more information contact:
Community Food Security Coalition
PO Box 209
Venice CA 90294
www.foodsecurity.org
310-822-5410
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... Gardening activities -along with comparable exercise such as swimming, bicycling at < 15km/h or moderate walking -can significantly ameliorate practitioners' physical fitness and is, therefore, beneficial for their health (Hanna et al., 2000;Hynes et al., 2004). Since gardening involves numerous tasks and is, therefore, feasible "for a range of age and ability levels" (Sommerfeld et al., 2010, p. 709), research often unravels its holistic advantages (Bellows et al., 2004). Nonetheless, there are numerous studies that focused on particular benefits, for instance lowering the risk of chronic diseases from overweight, sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity for both adult and children (Blair et al., 2002;Hynes et al., 2004;Castro et al., 2013). ...
... The cited health benefits are taken from: Ekblom-Bak et al., 2014;Bellows et al., 2004;Beitz et al., 2004;Chau et al., 2004;Reynolds et al., 2004;Park et al., 2009. activities to support patients of different age groups with mental illnesses to improve self-esteem, social skills and use of spare time (Brown et al., 2000;Bellows et al., 2004). ...
... The cited health benefits are taken from: Ekblom-Bak et al., 2014;Bellows et al., 2004;Beitz et al., 2004;Chau et al., 2004;Reynolds et al., 2004;Park et al., 2009. activities to support patients of different age groups with mental illnesses to improve self-esteem, social skills and use of spare time (Brown et al., 2000;Bellows et al., 2004). ...
Thesis
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Worldwide, the percentage of people living in urban areas will increase from 50% in 2010 to nearly 70% by 2050. While in many parts of the world, human development is expanding rapidly on the urban fringe and at the expense of rural hinterlands, some cities decided to focus on densifying the built environment. Since densification leads to a quantitative reduction of open spaces, the pressure on the remaining ones is significantly increasing. On the one hand, open spaces should meet the requirements of its users, on the other hand, they have to fulfil expectations regarding climate adaptation and operating efficiency. Thus, to satisfy these claims, urban open spaces have to be endowed with multi-functionality. Urban agriculture, in turn, offers indispensable opportunities to solve - or at least deal with - urban challenges regarding sustainability, health, economy, society, urban design and local food supply. Due to its cross-cutting and multi-dimensional nature, it has the potential to meet a good many of requirements on open spaces. Nonetheless, it still inherits a rather low visibility on the agenda of urban planners. This situation could stem from various reasons, whereby a gap in the understanding of urban agriculture’s capability seems to be a major cause. To this day, there exists no comprehensive literature on the subject - neither a holistic view on urban agriculture’s multifaceted benefits nor its impacts on urban open spaces. Thus, the purpose of this study is to tap urban agriculture’s potential and to emphasise its raison d’être in sustainable urban planning.
... how that urban agriculture provides a healthy and financially affordable food for low-income families and individuals, particularly those with limited access to food by increasing accessibility to fresh vegetables and fruits. Urban agriculture also creates social awareness through health programs and raises awareness in nutrition issues (FAO, 1996;Bellows et. al., 2004). ...
... al., 2011). Urban agriculture is an alternative in terms of reusing vacant land by providing mutual responsibility, trust, sharing, peace and friendship and social development therefore, reducing the risks that are endangering society such as crime processing and illegal garbage accumulation (Kaufman and Bailkey, 2000;Bellows et al., 2004;Lyson, 2005;Veenhuizen, 2006;Teig et al., 2009). ...
... Other studies showed that living near natural environments increases physical activity levels [29][30][31], decreases psychological stress and improves perceived health among their dwellers [32][33][34][35]. Moreover, participation in agricultural activities leads people to increase their physical activity level, performing both fine motor activities (such as cutting or grafting) and gross motor activities (such as digging or ploughing) [36,37] and an association has been found between the implementation of gardening and a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease [36]. Therefore, scientific evidence tends to show that natural environments and family orchards may impact on health status, fitness and daily life in rural dwellers. ...
... Other studies showed that living near natural environments increases physical activity levels [29][30][31], decreases psychological stress and improves perceived health among their dwellers [32][33][34][35]. Moreover, participation in agricultural activities leads people to increase their physical activity level, performing both fine motor activities (such as cutting or grafting) and gross motor activities (such as digging or ploughing) [36,37] and an association has been found between the implementation of gardening and a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease [36]. Therefore, scientific evidence tends to show that natural environments and family orchards may impact on health status, fitness and daily life in rural dwellers. ...
Article
Full-text available
Citation: Madruga, M.; Carlos-Vivas, J.; Mendoza-Muñoz, M.; Adsuar, J.C.; Mariano-Juárez, L.; Conde-Caballero, D. Family Orchards and Health-Related Quality of Life in the Elderly. A Protocol for a Study in Las Hurdes (Spain) Based on an Ethnographic Approach. Int. J.
... Other studies showed that living near natural environments increases physical activity levels [29][30][31], decreases psychological stress and improves perceived health among their dwellers [32][33][34][35]. Moreover, participation in agricultural activities leads people to increase their physical activity level, performing both fine motor activities (such as cutting or grafting) and gross motor activities (such as digging or ploughing) [36,37] and an association has been found between the implementation of gardening and a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease [36]. Therefore, scientific evidence tends to show that natural environments and family orchards may impact on health status, fitness and daily life in rural dwellers. ...
... Other studies showed that living near natural environments increases physical activity levels [29][30][31], decreases psychological stress and improves perceived health among their dwellers [32][33][34][35]. Moreover, participation in agricultural activities leads people to increase their physical activity level, performing both fine motor activities (such as cutting or grafting) and gross motor activities (such as digging or ploughing) [36,37] and an association has been found between the implementation of gardening and a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease [36]. Therefore, scientific evidence tends to show that natural environments and family orchards may impact on health status, fitness and daily life in rural dwellers. ...
Article
Full-text available
Demographic evolution is resulting on an aged population increment in Spain. This growth has been more relevant in rural areas, where the population has traditionally lived under hard socio-economic conditions and leveraging the natural resources such as food from family orchards to survive. Studies that have investigated the possibilities and uses of these traditional family orchards today in relation to health-related quality of life in the elderly are scarce. Based on a previous ethnography, this mixed research aims to describe a protocol that will evaluate the effects of the use of traditional family orchards as a daily resource on fitness and quality of life of the elderly population in Las Hurdes (Spain). Body composition, fitness, mental health, health-related quality of life, and activity-related behaviors of participants will be assessed. The outcomes of this study might enable us to design further tailored physical exercise-based interventions using family orchards as an adequate resource to improve the health-related quality of life and fitness of the elderly in rural areas. In addition, the study detailed here might also be applied to other similar rural areas in Spain and worldwide.
... Urban gardens provide important benefits in economy, health, education, social and environmental issues indicated below (Bellows et al., 2008;Draper and Freedman, 2010;Heather, 2012;Cabral et al., 2017); Urban gardens enable the actualization of professional activities as well as job opportunities by providing the opportunity for implementation and work. They reduce foreign-source dependency via local food production. ...
... -Educational activities Urban gardens provide opportunity to the students to carry out extracurricular activities in addition to enabling exercise, mental stimulation and social interactions. In this scope, urban gardens act as an application area for the lessons of students while also serving as a source of information contributing to the lessons (Bellows et al., 2008). In the meantime, urban gardens also help adults to learn about food production in an applied manner. ...
... Production methods of vertical farming and hydroponics can be applied in smaller areas and use 95% less water and nutrients than traditional strawberry production methods [49]. At the same time, hydroponic production methods are more advantageous than other methods, since production can be closer to consumption centers in arid and semi-arid conditions regardless of soil quality [50]. Besides, this production model has many advantages such as more efficient and correct use of water management, production throughout the year, higher yields and minimizing the use of pesticides compared to soil culture [51]. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Among the berries, strawberries are the most commercially produced and consumed and their production and consumption are increasing in the world due to their enthusiastic aroma, taste, and biochemical properties. Strawberry is belonging to the genus Fragaria, from the family Rosaceae. It is indicated that the homeland of the strawberry is South America (Chile). It is well-known that people living in Asia, Europe, and America commonly use the wild F. vesca. In other regions such as Japan, North China and Manchuria, Europe-Siberia, and America there are different ecogeographic zones where alternative species are clustered. Despite its origins in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, F. ananassa is now grown all over the world. Strawberry is one of the most widespread berry species grown in almost every country including high altitudes of tropical regions, and subtropical and temperate areas. In this chapter, we aimed to offer new perspectives on the future of strawberry cultivation techniques by analyzing recent academic studies on strawberry production.
... Other methods, like keeping bees and livestock, are also part of UA. 140 Growing food in urban areas can bring many benefits, such as fewer food miles and better access to affordable fresh produce. 141 This, in turn, may improve nutrition and reduce obesity rates. 142 Other positive effects include the revitalization of abandoned urban land and the betterment of urban landscape. ...
Article
Urban agriculture provides a promising, comprehensive solution to water, energy, and food scarcity challenges resulting from the population growth, urbanization, and the accelerating effects of anthropogenic climate change. Their close access to consumers, profitable business models, and important roles in educational, social, and physical entertainment benefit both developing and developed nations. In this sense, Urban Water Resource Reclamation Facilities (WRRFs) can play a pivotal role in the sustainable implementation of urban agriculture. Reclaimed water as a recovered resource has less supply variability, and in certain cases can be of higher quality than other water sources used in agriculture. Another recovered resource, namely biosolids, as byproduct from wastewater treatment can be put to beneficial use as fertilizers, soil amendments, and construction material additives. The renewable electricity, heat, CO2, and bioplastics produced from WRRFs can also serve as essential resources in support of urban agriculture operation with enhanced sustainability. In short, this review exhibits a holistic picture of the state‐of‐the‐art of urban agriculture in which WRRFs can potentially play a pivotal role.
Article
Full-text available
The development of green spaces in urban areas is rapidly on the rise as more people are keen to maintain a clean and green atmosphere around where they live and work. Also, the link between the physical world and the internet has been a driving force in enhancing people's quality of life which has resulted in the most recent and rising technologies, collectively referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). The adoption of vertical gardens (VG) and/or vertical farms (VF) can be beneficial for maintaining a sustainable environment, as well as for expanding food security in an urban context around the world with limited land space. IoT technologies have the potential to be key enablers in the accelerated adoption of VG. In this study, we investigate the critical parameters for automating sustainable vertical gardening systems by using the IoT concept in smart cities towards smart living. This involves collection and review of data from 30 peer-reviewed publications published between 2004 and 2018, including real-world VG implementations. The key criteria considered include: (i) crop/plant type, (ii) VG topology (size), (iii) sensing data, (iv) used hardware (sensors, actuators, etc.), (v) power supplies, (vi) velocity or frequency of data collection, (vii) data storage method, (viii) communication technologies, (ix) data analysis methods/algorithm, (x) other used strategies, and (xi) countries that implemented VGs. The data were subsequently analyzed to obtain a detailed understanding of using IoT in VGs. The results of the analysis revealed that most of the studies used 6-20 tiers (40%) when implementing VGs, and the most popular crop was lettuce (28.6%). The sensors used were commonly connected to AC power and battery (each 44.4%), while only a small proportion of VGs used solar power (11.1%). The majority of IoT sensors used were to measure room temperature (22.5%), light intensity (21.1%), humidity level (14%) and soil nutrition (7%). The frequency of data collection by these sensors was between 1 and 3 minutes (42.8%). The frequently used data transmission technology was Zigbee and Wi-Fi (42.8%) for collecting sensor data from VGs. We also found that, using the server database, remote data management platform and cloud were the most popular data storage methods (each 25%). After data collection, many studies used threshold-based algorithms (50%) for the decision making, and the soil-based (42%) and hydroponic (38%) were the most popular plant cultivation technologies. The use of recycled and reused water (30%), solar power (20%) and controlled indoor environment, without sun or soil (20%) are some of the other essential considerations in VGs. Furthermore, it was found that the most significant focus on automation of VGs incorporating IoT were in USA (41.2%) and China (23.5%). The impact of vertical cultivation walls on human well-being was discussed. In addition to this, eight international patents on VGs have been analyzed to acquire an implementation understanding of autonomous control or using IoT in vertical gardens.
Article
Full-text available
A nationwide survey of community gardeners found differences in rankings of the importance of community gardens related to quality-of-life perceptions based on Maslow' hierarchy of human needs model. Race, gender, and city sizes affected perceptions. When comparisons were made among the four racial/ethnic divisions, responses to 18 of the 24 questions were found to be statistically different. Community gardens were especially important to African-American and Hispanic gardeners. Male and female gardeners rated quality-of-life benefits from gardens similarly in importance. However, women placed higher value on the importance of saving money and the beauty within the garden. Gardeners in small, medium, and large metropolitan cities had similar quality-of-life perceptions with only 4 of the 24 statement responses showing significant differences. Significant differences were found in 10 of the 24 statement responses between gardeners of the two large cities of Los Angeles and New York. In most cases, mean ratings were higher for gardeners in New York than those in Los Angeles.
Book
Trace metals occur as natural constituents of the earth's crust, and are ever present constituents of soils, natural waters and living matter. The biological significance of this disparate assemblage of elements has gradually been uncovered during the twentieth century; the resultant picture is one of ever-increasing complexity. Several of these elements have been demonstrated to be essential to the functions of living organisms, others appear to only interact with living matter in a toxic manner, whilst an ever-decreasing number do not fall conveniently into either category. When the interactions between trace metals and plants are considered, one must take full account of the known chemical properties of each element. Consideration must be given to differences in chemical reactivity, solubility and to interactions with other inorganic and organic molecules. A clear understanding of the basic chemical properties of an element of interest is an essential pre-requisite to any subsequent consideration of its biological significance. Due consideration to basic chemical considerations is a theme which runs through the collection of chapters in both volumes.
Article
Economic constraints, by inducing the selection of low cost energy dense diets, could indirectly be responsible for the high prevalence of obesity in low socio-economic status groups. Diet optimisation by linear programming was used to test this hypothesis, by examining the relationship between the cost and the energy density (ED) of modelled diets. Models were developed that minimized the departure from the mean adult French diet estimated from a cross-sectional dietary survey. Palatability constraints were introduced into all models. The impacts of cost on ED and of ED on cost were explored by introducing and strengthening first a constraint on cost and then a constraint on ED. Forcing the cost of the linear programming diets to decrease induced a strong increase in their EDs. In contrast, forcing the ED to increase induced only a moderate decrease in diet costs. These results suggest that, although an energy dense diet can be selected at a relatively high cost, when cost is not influencing food choices, an energy dense diet will be preferentially selected to maintain habitual French dietary patterns when the budget for food is low. This supports the hypothesis that economic constraints play a role in the high prevalence of obesity in low-income people.
Article
It has been well documented that summer heat islands increase the demand for air conditioning. Several studies have suggested developing guidelines to mitigate this negative effect, on both micro- and meso-scales. Reducing summer heat islands saves cooling energy, reduces peak demand, and reduces the emission of COâ from electric power plants. This paper summarizes some of the efforts to quantify the effects of techniques to reduce heat islands. In particular, the authors summarize simulations they have made on the effects of plating trees and switching to light colored surfaces in cities. The results indicate that these techniques effectively reduce building cooling loads and peak power in selected US cities, and are the cheapest way to save energy and reduce COâ emissions. This paper compares the economics of technologies to mitigate summer heat islands with other types of conservation measures. The authors estimate the cost of energy conserved by planting trees and recoating surfaces on a national level and compare it with the cost of energy conserved by increasing efficiencies in electrical appliances and cars. Early results indicate that the cost of energy saved by controlling heat islands is less than 1{cents}/kWh, more attractive than efficient electric appliances (â¼ 2{cents}/kWh), and far more attractive than new electric supplies (â¼10{cents}/kWh). In transportation, the cost of conserving a gallon of gasoline, though far more attractive than buying gasoline at current prices, is again more expensive than controlling heat islands. By accounting for the carbon content of the fuels used for power generation and transportation, the authors restate these comparisons in terms of cents per avoided pound of carbon emitted as COâ. The results show that the cost of avoided COâ from planting trees/increasing albedo is about 0.3--1.3{cents}/lb. of carbon; for buying efficient electric appliances, 2.5{cents}/lb. of carbon; and for efficient cars, 10{cents}/lb. of carbon.