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What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?


Abstract and Figures

Home vegetable gardens are often promoted as a way to cut household costs by providing low-cost access to fruits and vegetables. How much can gardeners expect to spend and recoup from their efforts? An analysis of published data suggests that home vegetable gardens are profitable, if the fair market value of garden labor is excluded from calculated costs. On average, home vegetable gardens produce $677 worth of fruits and vegetables, beyond the cost of $238 worth of materials and supplies. Local environmental conditions, gardening practices, and crop choices will influence the actual net value realized by individual gardeners.
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April 2014
Volume 52
Number 2
Article # 2RIB5
Research In Brief
What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home
Vegetable Gardens?
Home vegetable gardens are often promoted as a way to cut household costs by providing low-cost
access to fruits and vegetables. How much can gardeners expect to spend and recoup from their
efforts? An analysis of published data suggests that home vegetable gardens are profitable, if the fair
market value of garden labor is excluded from calculated costs. On average, home vegetable gardens
produce $677 worth of fruits and vegetables, beyond the cost of $238 worth of materials and supplies.
Local environmental conditions, gardening practices, and crop choices will influence the actual net value
realized by individual gardeners.
Introduction and Need
Vegetable gardens allow families to produce their own food organically. This is a huge benefit for
consumers who recognize the benefits of organic foods, but are wary of paying an added cost at the
grocery market (Raab & Grobe, 2005). Vegetable gardens may be particularly advantageous for low-
income groups, who don't identify fresh fruits or vegetables as a staple food (Parker, Pinto, Kennedy,
Phelps, & Herman, 2007), perhaps because of perceived costs.
Extension professionals have noted resurgent interest in vegetable gardens (Miller & Arnold, 2012),
perhaps due to the recent economic recession. In fact, "recession gardens" is the new term for
"victory gardens" (Higgins, 2009; Horovitz, 2009). Extension professionals are commonly asked
about the costs and benefits of home vegetable gardens. Even though very little data exists on the
economic costs versus benefits, Extension home horticulture professionals often recommend
vegetable gardens as a way to access fresh, healthy foods at a relatively low cost. However, while I
was working on a SNAP-Ed-funded curriculum ("Growing Healthy Kids," 2013), my Extension
colleagues who work with low-income individuals, families, and groups regularly questioned the
economic costs and benefits of home vegetable gardens. They asked for more data before we
recommend that gardens can be used to supplement the family food budget.
Gail Ann Langellotto
State Coordinator
Master Gardener
Oregon State
Corvallis, Oregon
One estimate of the economic value of vegetable gardening found that the average vegetable
gardener in Newark, NJ could expect to net $475 worth of produce, with only a $25 investment in
their garden (Patel, 1991). However, the costs incurred and the produce harvested from New Jersey
gardens were estimated, rather than rigorously tracked.
Solid data on the economic costs and benefits associated with vegetable gardening is needed in
order for Extension professionals to confidently promote gardening as a way to supplement the
family food budget. I thus searched for references that rigorously detailed the economic costs and
benefits of home vegetable gardens.
I searched the Google and Google Scholar databases, as well as the Journal of Extension,
HortScience, and HortTechnology archives for various combinations of the keywords: home,
community, garden, economic, value, cost, yield. I only included those reports that rigorously
detailed the economic costs and yield from each garden. Non-peer-reviewed sources were included
only if they reported an exhaustive and detailed list of the economic costs and yield from a home
garden. I found a total of four journal articles and two blogs, which reported 10 observations of the
economic costs and yields for 11 vegetable gardens.
Utzinger and Connolly (1978) reported the average costs and benefits across four replicate 150
square foot gardens in Columbus, OH. Hours of labor were tracked. Costs incurred included
equipment, seeds, plant starts, pesticides, soil test, land rental, fertilizer, mulch, and water.
Stall (1979) reported on a 600 square foot demonstration garden in Homestead, FL. Hours of labor
were not tracked. Costs incurred included soil, blocks, hardware, water, stakes, mulch, fertilizer,
seeds, and pesticides.
Stephens, Carter, and Van Gundy (1980) reported on a 1400 square foot garden in Tallahassee,
FL. and a 638 square foot garden in Jacksonville, FL. Hours of labor were tracked. Costs incurred
included equipment, seeds, plant starts, fertilizer, pesticides, water, and stakes.
Cleveland, Orum, and Ferguson (1985) reported on two vegetable gardens (829 and 624 square
feet) in Tucson, AZ. Hours of labor were tracked. Costs incurred included seeds, plant starts, soil
amendments, fertilizers, mulch, tools, water, and the cost of hauling compost.
Doiron (2009) reported on a 1500 square foot vegetable garden in Scarborough, ME. Hours of
labor were not tracked. Costs incurred included seeds, supplies, water, soil test, and compost.
Roth (2011) reported on a single 878 square foot vegetable garden in Portland, OR, where costs
and harvests were tracked across 3 years (2008, 2009, and 2011). Hours of labor were tracked.
Costs incurred included seeds, plant starts, pesticides, fertilizers, potting soil, hoses, compost,
mulch, and soil amendments.
Four out of the above six sources are 25 or more years old. Although these references may seem
Research In Brief
What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?
JOE 52(2)
©2014 Extension Journal Inc.
dated, the information that they contain is extremely valuable for my analysis. The gardening tools,
supplies, and methods reported in these papers are still used today, although the costs associated
with starting and maintain a garden were substantially less than they are today. To correct for this
disparity, I adjusted all economic costs and values to current prices (i.e., 2013 value) using an
online Consumer Price Index inflation calculator (Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d.). This allowed data
to be compared across studies.
Yields were reported as pounds per crop harvested. Authors estimated the dollar value of garden
yields, based upon the cost per pound for each crop at a local grocery store. In addition, authors
tracked and reported material and supply costs. Although equipment depreciation or land rental
costs were included in the costs of maintaining a garden in some studies (Stephens et al., 1980;
Utzinger & Connolly, 1978), these costs were excluded from this analysis.
Most authors also reported the number of hours worked in the garden and the fair market labor
costs associated with these hours. If no labor rate was quoted, I calculated labor costs using the
Federal- or state-mandated minimum wage rate for the year the study was published.
I then calculated the difference between yield and cost to estimate the net value of each garden.
The net value of each garden was calculated with and without labor costs. A net value per square
foot of garden was also calculated with and without labor costs.
Overall, gardens were profitable if the fair market value of labor used to tend the garden was
excluding from the costs (Table 1). Excluding labor costs, gardens yielded an average $678 ± $515
worth of fruits and vegetables, over and above the costs of irrigating the garden, as well as the
costs of buying seeds, starts, soil and other materials. When scaled to garden size, the average yield
per square foot of garden space was $0.88 ± $0.64. However, when labor costs were included in the
cost-benefit analysis, the net value of home vegetable gardens declined to an average of -$81 ±
$499 per garden, or -$0.11 ± $0.67 per square foot of garden space. Although the yield and net
value across gardens varied quite a bit (note the large standard deviations), costs of materials and
supplies were relatively consistent across gardens, at $237 ± $85.
Table 1.
Summary of Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens
Cost Net Value
Cost of
Net Value
/ square
Net Value
/ square
Utzinger $115 39 $149 $322 $58 $208 $0.39 $1.39
Research In Brief
What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?
JOE 52(2)
©2014 Extension Journal Inc.
1979 $306 NR NR $1585 NA $1279 NA $2.13
et al.,
$162 23 $201 $1082 $720 $921 $0.51 $0.66
et al.,
$200 68 $594 $1172 $379 $973 $0.59 $1.53
et al.,
$187 153 $1104 $333 -$959 $145 -$1.16 $0.17
et al.,
$217 111 $800 $385 -$633 $167 -$1.01 $0.27
2009 $305 NR NR $2072 NA $1767 NA $1.18
2011 $343 54 $463 $651 -$155 $308 -$0.18 $0.35
2011 $380 72 $650 $876 -$154 $496 -$0.18 $0.56
2011 $158 48 $421 $678 $99 $520 $0.11 $0.59
Mean $237 71 $548 $916 -$81 $678 -$0.11 $0.88
Deviation $85 40 $293 $546 $499 $515 $0.67 $0.64
Median $209 61 $528 $777 -$48 $508 -$0.11 $0.66
*All costs and values reflect dollar values in 2013.
In each garden, tomatoes ranked among the top five most profitable garden crops. Leafy green
vegetables made the top five most profitable crops in all but one garden (Roth, 2011, for the garden
grown in 2008). Other profitable crops that appeared in the top five lists of multiple gardens
included peas, strawberries, squash, and eggplant.
Research In Brief
What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?
JOE 52(2)
©2014 Extension Journal Inc.
Extension professionals can confidently recommend vegetable gardening as a way to save money on
fresh fruit and vegetable purchases. Although the fair market cost of labor can add a substantial
cost, most people do not hire help to tend their vegetable garden. In addition, the benefits of
gardening extend well beyond the potential financial benefits. For example, vegetable gardening
promotes healthy eating (Alaimo, Packnett, Miles, & Kruger, 2009; Langellotto & Gupta, 2012),
stress relief (Rodiek, 2002), and physical activity (Park, 2007). Gardening has also been linked to a
decreased risk of dementia (Simons, Simons, McCallum, & Friedlander, 2006) and may be more
effective at treating childhood obesity than other therapeutic interventions (Braet, Van Winckel, &
Van Leeuwen, 2008).
Although I attempted to standardize costs and yields by excluding equipment depreciation estimates
from reported costs, and reporting all costs and yields in terms of 2013 dollar values, there was still
a fair amount of variation in the net value of home gardens (note the large standard deviations).
This is likely because each garden reflects the local conditions, gardening practices, crop choices, and
skill of each gardener. For example, see the following.
Stephens et al. (1980) note that the larger, Tallahassee garden (1,400 square feet) yielded less
than the smaller, Jacksonville (638 square feet) garden, due to less efficient use of space (i.e.,
wider row spacing).
Roth (2011) noted that better weather and acquired skills led to better yields in 2009, compared
to 2008.
Cleveland et al., (1985) report irrigation costs for their two desert gardens that are far greater
than irrigation costs in the other gardens included in this analysis.
Doiron (2009) had the most profitable yield of all of the gardens. He is also the founder of Kitchen
Gardeners International ( and is widely recognized as an expert vegetable
The three Florida (Stall, 1979; Stephens et al., 1980) gardens yielded the next highest harvest
value ($1585, $1082, and $1172), after Doiron (2009). This perhaps reflects the longer growing
season and more favorable climatic conditions for productive vegetable gardening.
It is thus not fair to promise home gardeners that they can net $678 worth of fruits and vegetables
if they start a home garden. It is not fair to suggest that one square foot of a home vegetable
garden is worth $0.88. The standard deviations associated with these averages are just too large.
Nonetheless, this analysis demonstrates that vegetable gardening can help a family save money on
their food budget, particularly if household members (rather than hired help) maintain the garden.
In addition, the relatively small standard deviation associated with start-up materials and supplies (±
$85) suggests that it is fair to tell prospective home gardeners that they can expect to spend a
couple hundred dollars to start and maintain a home vegetable garden.
It is important to point out that these studies noted the value of fruits and vegetables that were
harvested from home gardens, rather than the value of produce that was actually used in meals and
Research In Brief
What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?
JOE 52(2)
©2014 Extension Journal Inc.
in snacks. It is not uncommon for home gardeners to grow more food than they can use at the time
of harvest. However, the same could be said for perishable food items purchased at a grocery
market. Food waste in the United States has increased by more than 50% since 1974 (Hall, Guo,
Dore, & Chow 2009).
Nonetheless, the potential to learn more about food preservation or using garden-grown produce in
home-cooked meals represents an opportunity to build stronger collaborations between Extension
Master Gardeners and Extension Family and Community Health professionals. Master Food Preservers
and SNAP-Ed educators are experts at low cost food preparation and preservation. Working together,
we could maximize the family food budget by encouraging home vegetable gardening and the use of
garden-grown produce in family snacks and meals.
Alaimo, K., Packnett, E., Miles, R. A., & Kruger, D. J. (2009). Fruit and vegetable intake among
urban community gardeners. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior , 40, 94-101.
Allan, D. (2012, May 3). Don't start a veggie garden to save money [On-line]. Retrieved from:
Braet, C., Van Winckel, M., & Van Leeuwen, K. (2008). Follow-up results of different treatment
programs for obese children. Acta Pediatrica, 86, 397-402.
Cleveland, D. A., Orum, T. V., & Ferguson, N. (1985). Economic value of home vegetable gardens in
an urban desert environment. HortScience, 20, 694-696.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). CPI inflation calculator [Website]. Retrieved from:
Doiron, R. (2009, March 2) What's a home garden worth? Retrieved from:
Growing Healthy Kids (2013). Retrieved from:
Hall, K. D., Guo, J., Dore, M., & Chow, C. C. (2009). The progressive increase of food waste in
America and its environmental impact . Public Library of Science ONE 4(11): e7940
Higgins, A. (2009, June 15). Demand for vegetable seeds is rooted in recession. Washington Post.
Retrieved from:
Horovitz, B. (2009, February 20). Recession grows interest in seeds, vegetable gardening. USA
Today. Retrieved from:
Langellotto, G. A., & Gupta, A. (2012). Gardening increases vegetable consumption in school-aged
children: A meta-analytical synthesis. HortTechnology, 22, 430-445.
Miller, J., & Arnold, S. (2012). Produce your own: A community gardening program. Journal of
Extension [On-line], 50(2). Available at:
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What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?
JOE 52(2)
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Park, S. (2007). Gardening as a physical activity for health in older adults. (Doctoral dissertation).
Retrieved from:
Parker, S., Pinto, V., Kennedy, T., Phelps, J. A., & Herman, J. R. (2007). Food choices and coping
strategies during periods of perceived food shortage: Perspectives from four racial/ethnic groups
Journal of Extension [On-line], 50(2). Available at:
Patel, I. (1991). Gardenings socioeconomic impacts. Journal of Extension [On-line], 29(4) Article
4FEA1. Available at:
Raab, C., & Grobe, D. (2005). Consumer knowledge and perceptions about organic food. Journal of
Extension [On-line], 43(4) Article 4RIB3. Available at:
Rodiek, S. (2002). Influence of an outdoor garden on mood and stress in older persons. Journal of
Therapeutic Horticulture, XIII, 13-21.
Roth, J. D. (2011). The year-long GRS project: How much does a garden really save? Retrieved
Simons, W. M, Simons, J., McCallum, J., & Friedlander, Y. (2006). Lifestyle factors and risk of
dementia: Dubbo study of the elderly. Medical Journal of Australia , 184, 68-70.
Stall, W. M., (1979), Economic value of a home vegetable garden in South Florida . Proceedings of
the Florida State Horticultural Society 92, 213-214.
Stephens, J. M., Carter, L., & Van Gundy, C. V. (1980). Economic value of vegetables grown in North
Florida Gardens. Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society, 93, 70-72.
Utzinger, J. D., & Connolly, H. E. (1978). Economic value of a home garden. HortScience, 12, 148-
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What Are the Economic Costs and Benefits of Home Vegetable Gardens?
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... These gardens require a significant amount of time, effort, energy and financial investment but the returns are very significant and sustainable in terms of fulfilling the food security and nutritional concerns at the household level. People can consume fresh produce without a profound use of chemicals [7][8][9]. ...
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The objective of this study is to evaluate the contributions of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) practices to the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus balance, design practical pathways, and analyze barriers towards achievement of EbA-WEF balance. An area case study and descriptive methods were used to analyze data collected from 50 community forests (CFs) spread across three regions in The Gambia. Extensive information from relevant literature sources was also referred to in this study. Fourteen priority EbA practices were established and categorized into four major groups based on their application similarities. Among the anticipated ecosystem services were enhanced water resource conservation, food and feed production, enhanced energy supply, and improved community livelihoods to enhance their resilience. Pathways on how each practice under the broad category contributes to water, energy, and food were developed to demonstrate how they individually and collectively contribute towards the nexus balance. Key enablers identified included a conducive policy framework, institutional support, diverse incentives, information, knowledge, and technology transfer, and climate and non-climate barriers were cited as impediments. The paper concludes by outlining recommendations to overcome the established barriers.
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The concept of landslide vulnerability to a given location is hard to quantify. Few studies have been carried to determine susceptibility using social and physical factors. This study is the first attempt in Sri Lanka to quantify level of vulnerability by integrating major physical and social indicators to map the spatial distribution of vulnerability. Considering the limitations of traditional weight evaluation method in calculation of the multiple indicators and ignorance of the associations among evaluating indicators, a new weight evaluation process, entropy method was introduced in this study. This improved method for determination of weight of the evaluating indicators was applied to estimate weight for the 14 selected indicators. The primary data were obtained from a comprehensive questioner survey (n = 402) of households or buildings (elements) with their coordinates based on a spatially balanced approach for ensuring spatial coverage of the entire landslide distribution. The spatial distribution of vulnerability was mapped using Kriging interpolation. According to the map, landslide vulnerabilities in the study area demonstrate notable regional specifications. Besides, the spatial distribution of vulnerability has shown a close relationship with rural and urban settlements. Results of spatial vulnerability reflect discrimination and inequalities in the development of the study area. According to landslide vulnerability analyses, 14.6% (247 km²) of the entire area is found to be the highest vulnerable zone for a landslide and 39.8% (675 km²) of area categorized under the lowest zone to vulnerability. Further, the study revealed a reasonable contribution by entropy method on analysis of social and physical indicators, which is useful for other vulnerability assessments.
Kant regarded ecosphere as having the highest degree of beauty, as opposed to other aesthetical objects such as painting, sculpture, buildings, and we could infer, the built environment. His arguments hinges heavily on his transcendental philosophy, where he stressed that pure beauty could only be achieved through disinterested judgement, without concept, and others. Though his proposition for ecosphere is valid, it could not be used to justify other cases, such as determining the degree of beauty of the built environment. Thus, a modified version of Kant's aesthetics needs to be adopted, as it opens space for the built environment. This research uses Kant's overarching aesthetical arguments to justify the degree of beauty of the built environment. It is found that the built environment could have similar, if not same to, the degree of beauty of ecosphere by way of bioregionalism and ecomimicry, where the totality of the built environment encompases the natural law of local environment, making its degree of beauty as high as ecosphere. Keywords: bioregionalism, ecomimicry, the built environment, ecosphere, degree of beauty ABSTRAK Kant memandang tinggi atas lingkungan alam dan menobatkannya sebagai derajat keindahan tertinggi bila dibandingkan dengan objek estetis lainnya seperti lukisan, patung, gedung, dan kita dapat inferensikan, lingkungan buatan manusia. Argumen dia terjangkar kepada pemikiran transendentalnya, di mana keindahan murni hanya dapat didapatkan melalui penilaian tanpa ketertarikan, tanpa konsep, dan lain-lain. Walaupun proposisinya terhadap lingkungan alam valid, kita tidak dapat menggunakannya untuk menjustifikasi derajat keindahan lingkungan buatan manusia. Dengan itu, sebuah modifikasi dari pemikiran Kant diperlukan untuk dapat menilai lingkungan buatan manusia. Penelitian ini menggunakan teori estetika Kant untuk menjustifikasi derajat keindahan lingkungan buatan alam. Dipertahankan bahwa lingkungan buatan manusia memiliki derajat keindahan yang sangat mendekati, bahkan sama, dengan lingkungan buatan alam jika, dan hanya jika, lingkungan buatan tersebut mengadopsi konsep bioregionalisme dan ecomimicry, di mana totalitas dari lingkungan buatan manusia mencakupi hukum alam yang terdapat di daerah lokal, meningkatkan derajat keindahan lingkungan buatan tersebut. Keywords: bioregionalisme, ecomimicry, lingkungan buatan manusia, lingkungan alam, derajat keindahan
This datasheet on Urban Horticulture covers Identity, Overview, Description, Further Information.
In a rapidly urbanising world, urban agriculture has garnered much attention for increasing resilience to a range of interrelated stressors, including climate change, food insecurity, economic instability and most recently, public health crises. Critical to understanding the viability of urban agriculture and ensuring its environmental sustainability, is the intersection of available land and the supply of agricultural inputs. Here, we address existing knowledge gaps related to urban agriculture and rainwater harvesting, by quantifying the self-sufficiency potential of half a million homes in Adelaide, South Australia. We developed a model that combines high resolution spectral and LiDAR imagery with productivity and irrigation data that reflect the actual behaviors of urban growers. Results indicate that 65% of residential properties contain enough available land to provide dietary self-sufficiency of vegetables, while capturing and storing adequate rainwater for irrigation, even in the modelled Dry year scenario. The modelled edible garden and associated storage tank would occupy around half of the lawn space in a typical residential block. These results highlight the substantial contribution urban agriculture can make to a more sustainable food systems in a low-density city.
The specific case of home gardening practices is particularly relevant when discussing lifestyle habits and ecological transition, due to the wide range of positive and negative environmental externalities private gardens may generate. However, existing studies usually focus on restricted areas, mostly at a city scale. We provide an original empirical contribution to the literature on individual and institutional drivers regarding ecological transition by exploring the variations of individual behavior between European countries with an appropriate econometric approach. Using a European database (Eurobarometer 83.4), we highlight several interesting results regarding Europeans’ adoption of sustainable gardening practices, more particularly on the role of socio-demographic drivers, urban or rural residential location and access to trustworthy biodiversity-related information. In conclusion, we provide recommendations for the design of dedicated public policies, specific to a national or local level of decision.
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A 13.9 m ² (150 ft ² ) vegetable garden grown in Columbus, Ohio, in 1975 yielded 95.5 kg of produce or 6.85 kg per m ² . The produce had a retail value of $90.45 or $6.50 per m ² . The mean economic savings from all vegetables disregarding any labor and transportation expenses was $3.01 per m ² or $42 for the garden.
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Two home vegetable gardens (77.4 and 58.3 m ² ) in Tucson, Ariz., yielded an average of 1.24 and 2.31 kg/m ² of produce per year over 3 and 2.5 years, respectively. Average net returns were $109 and $123 per year, $0.72 and $1.11 per hour, or $8.80 and $7.75 per dollar of water used. Thus, in the southwest desert, a weekly investment of 2-to-3 hours in a home garden can provide savings.
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Many County Extension offices offer an adult Master Gardener Program, which includes advanced gardening training, short courses, newsletters, and conferences. However, with the comprehensive training provided comes a large time commitment. The Produce Your Own program was created to introduce adults to gardening in a similar manner, but with shorter, less demanding, and less technical sessions. The outreach program consisted of a series of four interactive sessions focused on plot design, crop selection, garden maintenance, harvesting, and preserving. The content can be adapted in many ways for adults, seniors, youth, and other audiences, which allows Extension to reach larger audiences.
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Although a handful of published reports suggest that garden-based nutrition education programs are effective in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, many of these studies have low statistical power because of small sample sizes and lack of long-term data. In this study, we used meta-analytical techniques to examine the efficacy of garden-based nutrition education programs for increasing children’s nutrition knowledge, preference for fruit and vegetables, and/or consumption of fruit and vegetables. We confined our analysis to peer-reviewed studies that examined programs that were delivered to children in the United States. We looked at the relative impacts of garden-based nutrition education programs, compared with experimental controls (i.e., no nutrition education) and nutrition education programs without a gardening component. We compared the results of our meta-analysis with those of a vote counting analysis to illustrate the importance of repeated studies and quantitative analysis. In our vote counting analysis, the majority of the outcomes were nonsignificant in the control and nutrition education groups, but positive and significant for the gardening group. Our quantitative analysis of the impacts of gardening education programs on children’s nutrition knowledge, preference for fruit and vegetables, and/or consumption of fruit and vegetables was limited by the small number of studies that reported the full suite of descriptive statistics needed to conduct a meta-analysis. Nonetheless, one striking and robust result emerged: gardening increased vegetable consumption in children, whereas the impacts of nutrition education programs were marginal or nonsignificant. We suggest two nonmutually exclusive hypotheses to explain our results: gardening increases access to vegetables and gardening decreases children’s reluctance to try new foods. Our results suggest that gardening should be an integral component of wellness programs and policies. A historical lack of funding has impeded both the broader adoption of school gardens and rigorous research on the social, behavioral, and academic impacts of gardening on children. Recently, however, there has been an increase in federal support for gardening and garden-based research projects—a trend that we hope will continue and grow.
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Despite recent interest in healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes at residential care facilities, few empirical studies have measured health outcomes in elderly populations. This study explored methods for assessing psychological and physiological outcomes associated with natural environments. Seventeen residents ranging from 71 to 98 years of age (mean 84.7) engaged in the same activities at an outdoor horticultural garden or indoor classroom. Before and after the experience, subjects were assessed for positive and negative mood, anxiety, and salivary cortisol. No significant change was found in mood or anxiety level. Cortisol was significantly lower in the garden environment compared with the indoor settings, indicating greater reduction in stress level. This pilot study supports previous research finding health-related outcomes associated with brief exposure to natural environments.
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Food waste contributes to excess consumption of freshwater and fossil fuels which, along with methane and CO(2) emissions from decomposing food, impacts global climate change. Here, we calculate the energy content of nationwide food waste from the difference between the US food supply and the food consumed by the population. The latter was estimated using a validated mathematical model of metabolism relating body weight to the amount of food eaten. We found that US per capita food waste has progressively increased by approximately 50% since 1974 reaching more than 1400 kcal per person per day or 150 trillion kcal per year. Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year.
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The objectives of this study were to determine exercise intensity of common gardening tasks in older adults and to investigate if older gardeners meet the physical activity (PA) recommendations (intensity and time) through their daily gardening. Kinds of gardening tasks, body postures, and bodily pain while gardening of older gardeners were investigated and the possibility of gardening as a predictor for a physically active lifestyle and life satisfaction in older adults was determined. Older participants were randomly recruited from the community of Manhattan, KS. To determine the exercise intensity of gardening, the heart rates of older adults were measured by radiotelemetry during gardening or garden tasks, and then oxygen uptake and energy expenditure were measured via indirect calorimetry using a submaximal graded exercise test. Overall health conditions by the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36), hand functions by hydraulic hand dynamometer and pinch gauge, and bone mineral density (BMD) by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry were measured. An observational study and weekly logs were conducted to study kinds of gardening, postures, and bodily pain of older gardeners. The Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Senior (CHAMPS) questionnaire was used to measure leisure-time PAs (frequency per week of all PAs and calories expended per week in all PAs). In conclusion, the nine gardening tasks were found to be low to moderate intensity PA in healthy older adults (1.6 ± 3.6 METs). Gardening observed was moderate intensity (3.8 ± 1.4 METs) PA in older adults and the subjects met the PA recommendation, which is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity PA on most days of the week through their daily gardening (moderate intensity; average 33 hrs/wk in May and 15 hrs/wk in June and July). The older gardeners showed higher values for hand function and some SF-36 domains (physical function, bodily pain, and physical summary) than older non-gardeners. Gripping, stooping, lifting, stretching, walking, standing, kneeling, sitting, and squatting were observed while older adults gardened and lower back pain was the main bodily pain reported. Furthermore, gardening was found to be a predictor for leading a physically active lifestyle and high life satisfaction in older adults. The Kansas State University Center on Aging; the NSF ADVANCE program of Kansas State University Doctor of Philosophy Doctoral Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources Candice A. Shoemaker
Oregon food shoppers' knowledge and perceptions about organic food were assessed in a statewide phone survey conducted 3 months after adoption of USDA's National Organic Program standards. Of the 637 interviewees, 77% reported household purchase of organic food in the past 6 months. Those with household members in environmental organizations were significantly more likely to purchase organic food frequently. About two-thirds gave positive word associations with "organic. " Forty percent were aware that the USDA standards had gone into effect. Trust in the accuracy of the USDA organic label varied. Environmentally minded consumers are a potential organic market if trust is maintained.
The study reported here aimed to develop a better understanding of ethnic differences in food choices during times of perceived food shortage. Eight focus groups were conducted with limited income women between the ages of 18 to 35 years-two each with Native American, Hispanic, African American, and White participants. Content analysis of transcripts indicated differences and similarities with respect to food choices and coping strategies. Results of the study have important implications for the development of culturally appropriate and financially realistic nutrition education programming with diverse populations.