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Is gardening associated with greater happiness of urban residents? A multi-activity, dynamic assessment in the Twin-Cities region, USA


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As cities seek to become more livable and environment-friendly, activities like bicycling, walking, and urban gardening (household and community-gardening) are receiving much attention. However, few field studies have measured well-being of urban gardening, particularly during household gardening. Our study develops protocols to measure emotional well-being (EWB) reported during household gardening, comparing it with other leisure and day-to-day activities. We also explore how gardening EWB varies across gardener type (vegetable vs ornamental), demographics, neighborhood type, and companionship during gardening. Using a recently developed app-based Day Reconstruction Method, EWB was measured across 370 participants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, USA, wherein 118 (32%) reported engaging in household gardening. Innovatively, five measures of EWB were computed for each participant for each activity type: average net affect, average happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness). Among all three average EWB measures, gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities assessed, and, is not statistically different from biking, walking and eating out. All four of these activities fall behind other leisure/recreation activities, which ranks first. For frequency of experiencing peak happiness, only other leisure/recreation activities were statistically higher than all the remaining (14) activities. Average net affect of gardening was significantly higher for vegetable gardeners (vs ornamental), for low-income gardeners (vs higher income) and for women. Companionship while gardening at home, race/ethnicity and urban versus suburban location showed no significant difference. Livability and equity considerations based on these EWB findings, and their impacts on urban food plans, are discussed.
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Landscape and Urban Planning
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Is gardening associated with greater happiness of urban residents? A multi-
activity, dynamic assessment in the Twin-Cities region, USA
Graham Ambrose
, Kirti Das
, Yingling Fan
, Anu Ramaswami
Princeton University, Civil & Environmental Engineering, 41 Olden St., Princeton, NJ 08544, United States
University of Minnesota - Humphrey School of Public Aairs, United States
Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Princeton University (c/o Anu Ramaswami), 41 Olden St., Princeton NJ 08544,
United States
As cities seek to become more livable and environment-friendly, activities like bicycling, walking, and urban gardening (household and community-gardening) are
receiving much attention. However, few eld studies have measured well-being of urban gardening, particularly during household gardening. Our study develops
protocols to measure emotional well-being (EWB) reported during household gardening, comparing it with other leisure and day-to-day activities. We also explore
how gardening EWB varies across gardener type (vegetable vs ornamental), demographics, neighborhood type, and companionship during gardening. Using a
recently developed app-based Day Reconstruction Method, EWB was measured across 370 participants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, USA, wherein 118 (32%)
reported engaging in household gardening. Innovatively, ve measures of EWB were computed for each participant for each activity type: average net aect, average
happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness). Among all three average EWB measures,
gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities assessed, and, is not statistically dierent from biking, walking and eating out. All four of these activities fall behind
other leisure/recreation activities, which ranks rst. For frequency of experiencing peak happiness, only other leisure/recreation activities were statistically higher
than all the remaining (14) activities. Average net aect of gardening was signicantly higher for vegetable gardeners (vs ornamental), for low-income gardeners (vs
higher income) and for women. Companionship while gardening at home, race/ethnicity and urban versus suburban location showed no signicant dierence.
Livability and equity considerations based on these EWB ndings, and their impacts on urban food plans, are discussed.
1. Introduction
We are currently living on an urban planetwherein more than
50% of the world's population, (UN Desa, 2014) and more than 80% of
the world's GDP is generated in urban areas (Dobbs et al., 2011). Seven
key physical provisioning systems are essential to support people and
economies in cities, aecting urban livelihoods and well-being. These
are: energy supply, transportation, buildings, municipal water supply,
food, sanitation/waste, and green/public space (Ramaswami, 2016).
However, these provisioning systems are now placing large demands on
planetary resources as they are associated with more than 86% of GHG
emissions and > 95% of water withdrawals, globally (Pachauri, 2014;
Ramaswami, 2016). Further, inadequate, poorly functioning and pol-
luting infrastructure provisioning has been shown to have signicant
impact on health outcomes, such as disease burden, and premature
mortality (Lim et al., 2012; IHME, 2018), with many of these premature
deaths occurring in highly populated urban areas. Many sustainable
development frameworks, including the United NationsSustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) highlight the interaction between these
provisioning systems, the environment, and, human health and well-
being. For example, SDG #2 addresses food, SDG #6 addresses water
and sanitation, SDG #11, sustainable cities and communities, SDG #13
addresses climate action, and SDG #3 addresses human health and
However, while much is known about the impact of urban infra-
structure and food systems on the environmental dimensions of the
SDGs (e.g., Hillman & Ramaswami, 2010; Boyer & Ramaswami, 2017)
and on health (Rydin et al., 2012; Wilson, 2011; and Lim et al., 2012),
relatively little is known about how infrastructure and food systems in
cities shape broader aspects of human well-being, with a particular
dearth of information regarding household gardening (Taylor & Lovell,
2014). As cities seek to enhance both livability and sustainability (e.g.,
Lowell et al., 2013), questions arise as to how to improve quality of life
through dierent sectoral investments such as bicycle paths, parks, and
other urban amenities. However, there are few instruments to directly
measure human well-being in cities encompassing various activities and
sectors that people interact with at the urban scale. Our paper focuses
on developing an instrument that assesses subjective well-being in cities
Received 30 May 2019; Received in revised form 30 January 2020; Accepted 31 January 2020
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (G. Ambrose), (K. Das), (Y. Fan), (A. Ramaswami).
Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
0169-2046/ © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
focusing on urban gardening activities, and comparing with other ac-
tivities in cities. Furthermore, we focus on emotional wellbeing (EWB)
given that it is sensitive to day-to-day variation in activities and in-
teractions with the built environment (Helliwell, 2012), wherein gar-
dening lies.
This introductory section provides an overview of dierent well-
being measures, highlights the rationale for measuring EWB in cities,
and reviews various methods to measure EWB.
Over the past two decades, methods have advanced to directly
measure the subjective well-being (SWB) of individuals, where SWB is
dened as judging ones life positively and frequently experiencing
positive emotions (Diener, 1985; Diener, 2009; Tabor and Yull, 2018).
Standardized SWB surveys now explore two aspects of well-being,
cognitive (how people think) and emotional (how people feel), as il-
lustrated by surveys administered by the UK census since 2012 (Tabor
and Yull, 2018). Cognitive wellbeing is measures through scales such as
the Cantril Ladder of Life scale (Cantril, 1965) Dieners Satisfaction
with Life scale (1985). Emotional wellbeing questions address both
positive and negative emotions (happy, meaningfulness, sad, tired
stress and pain), a standardized set of which have been used in the
National American Time Use Survey (National Research Council, 2012).
Some surveys also include questions to evaluate life purpose (mean-
ingfulness), which is shown to inuence both cognitive and emotional
well-being (Helliwell, 2012).
While cognitive well-being questions are generally framed as a life
assessments having participants think about their life as a
whole(Helliwell, 2012), EWB when tracked through daily activities
(Zhu & Fan, 2018), shows how day-to-day interactions impact people at
the emotional level, aecting positive emotions, such as happiness and
meaningfulness, as well as negative emotions, such as sadness, stress,
tiredness, and pain (National Research Council, 2012). Hence the focus
of this paper on EWB. Helliwell et al. argue the term happinesscan
broadly be used for all aspects of SWB, although, by itself, it is an
emotion. In this paper, we refer to happiness as an emotion, in the
context of Emotional Well-Being (EWB).
National studies, such as the UK census and the ATUS, reveal broad
factors such as income and employment, age, demography (race) and
family structure that impact EWB (Kushlev, Dunn, & Lucas, 2015, Tabor
and Yull, 2018, Yamashita, Bardo, & Liu, 2018); others have revealed
that environmental factors, such as weather and pollution, also impact
EWB (Tabor and Yull, 2018). However, these surveys do not address
multiple built environment interactions within individual cities, and do
not specically inform how urban food production, including commu-
nity gardening and household gardening, shape EWB.
Gardens are part of the concept of urban green infrastructure and
nature in the city, which includes trees, parks and urban farms.
Several studies have evaluated the broader role that nature in the city
plays in enhancing human health and well-being. Some studies have
focused on the health benets of green infrastructure (e.g. air pollution
reduction, heat island reduction, etc.) (Tzoulas, 2007; Lee &
Maheswaran, 2011). A recent review suggests that some of these direct
health benets may be small and/or highly uncertain (Keeler et al.,
2019), while broader personal and community/social well-being ben-
ets may be more signicant and should be further studied (Petrovic,
Simpson, Orlove, & Dowd-Uribe, 2019). Other studies, using qualitative
methods, suggest benets such as psychological benets and social
cohesion, through being more connected to nature and their community
(Kim & Kaplan, 2004; Shanahan et al., 2017).
In the context of gardening, there have been many studies of com-
munity gardens and their impacts on social cohesion, but these studies
do not directly measure EWB and are focused on community gardens
(Alaimo, 2016; Litt, 2015; Soga, 2017). A few studies have directly
measure emotions during gardening activities. MacKerron and Mourato
(2013) tracks the single emotion of happiness when people interact
with various nature-based activities nationwide in the UK (both urban
and rural), including gardening, using the Experience Sampling
Method, which randomly sampled participants twice a day. Bakolis
et al. (2018) likewise track various aspect of mental wellbeing (e.g.,
optimism, energy, relaxation, closeness to other people) as people in-
teract with nature, both urban and rural, in the UK. These studies do not
cover the range of emotions (positive and negative) that have been used
in composite EWB measures. More recently, researchers have also
started to analyze Twitter posts to assess sentiments (Plunz, 2019)in
urban green spaces.
These emerging studies, while showing the benets of nature in the
city, do not address the range of emotions tracked in national EWB
studies, and, also do not oer a comparison with other urban activities
that may also oer opportunities for leisure and relaxation.
Indeed, other activities in cities, including biking and walking, have
been shown to improve EWB (Collier, 2018; Wolf, 2013; Lovell, 2014;
Golden, 2013; Zhu & Fan, 2018; Fan, Brown, Das, & Wolfson, 2019). As
cities consider investments in various infrastructures to enhance urban
livability and quality of life, they are considering programs that support
household gardening (Sickler, 2018), community gardening (Golden,
2013), and active-living infrastructures such as bicycle paths (Fishman,
2016), all of which can enhance quality of life and reduce environ-
mental impacts. However, to-date, the impact of gardening on EWB has
not been measured in comparison to other activities that have known
positive impacts on EWB, e.g., bicycling, walking (Zhu & Fan, 2018,
Pressman et al., 2009; Brajša-Žganec, 2011; Wei, 2015).
This paper seeks to develop a methodology to directly measure EWB
of individuals while engaging in gardening activities, and compare it in
the context of other human-infrastructure interactions and daily ac-
tivities. Specically, we study household gardening, which has been
relatively under-studied, comparing it to other activities (e.g., walking,
biking, eating out and other leisure/recreational activities), as well as
dierent types of gardening within the category of household gardening
(i.e., vegetable versus ornamental gardening, done alone or otherwise),
and in dierent urban settings (urban vs suburban).
1.1. Objectives
Specically, this study has three research objectives: (1) under-
standing human engagement (time spent per week and frequency) with
gardening, in the context of time spent on other activities, (2) mea-
suring EWB during household gardening and compare with other ac-
tivities, and (3) focusing only on household gardening, exploring how
the EWB of participants engaged in gardening varies across gardener
type, income, neighborhood type, and companionship during the gar-
dening activity.
While the pilot project reported here focuses on household gar-
dening, future work seeks to compare the EWB of household gardening
with community gardening in order to oer future policy insight on the
well-being benets of urban gardening as a public or private good.
2. Methods
2.1. Background on EWB Measurements
EWB instruments can be split into two categories: (1) Time-Oriented
Techniques and (2) Event-Oriented Techniques (Kahneman, Krueger,
Schkade, Schwarz & Stone, 2004). In Time-Oriented Techniques, such
as pager-based experience sampling methods, participants report EWB
measures at a prescribed or randomly sampled points in time (Krueger,
2014). In Event-Oriented Techniques, such as diary-based Day Re-
construction Methods, participants report EWB measures systematically
linked to the participants daily activities (Kahneman & Krueger, 2006).
Literature has shown that time-based techniques have the advantage of
extracting EWB information in real time without recall bias; event-or-
iented techniques have the advantage of capturing sequential and more
complete EWB information throughout the day without activity sam-
pling bias. Research comparing the time- and event-oriented techniques
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
has shown event-oriented techniques, which utilize the Day Re-
construction Method (DRM), to be accurate and reliable (Hektner et al.,
2007; Kahneman et al., 2004); moreover, it enables comparing gar-
dening with other events/activites, which is the purpose of this paper.
The DRM rst asks participants to reconstruct their previous days
events in a diary. Then for each of the events, participants are prompted
with questions about the specic situation of the event and their
emotions during the event (Kahneman & Krueger, 2006). The method
has been shown to oer reliable results, less burden on the participant,
and a continuous log of the participantsevents. We use the DRM, op-
erationalizing it through a phone application called Daynamica
Wolfson, & Adomavicius, 2017; Fan et al., 2019).
The DRM measures remembered utility,which reects a partici-
pants measure of the experience retrospectively (Kahneman,
Fredrickson, Schreiber, & Redelmeier, 1993). Measurements used to
express remembered utility, such as net aect, report a single EWB
measurement for a collective event, in hopes participants are summing
momentary utilities over the whole experience. Net aect is a common
measure of subjective well-being in psychology literature and re-
presents the mean of a participants positive emotion scores during an
event, minus the mean of a participants negative emotional scores for
the same event (Kahneman & Krueger, 2006). A positive net aect score
indicates the positive emotions outweigh the negative emotions for the
same event.
Remembered utilityis heavily inuenced by peak positive and
negative emotions, no matter their relative duration, compared to the
total duration of the activity (Kahneman et al., 1993), therefore in this
paper we also develop a new metric to assess peak happiness, in terms
of frequency of experiencing high levels of that emotion. Frequency of
peak happinessexpresses events where participants report extreme
positive emotion, since remembered utilityis weighted to the peaks
and valleys of emotions. Literature suggests that people might re-
member negative emotions more than positive emotions; hence, some
researchers have constructed an unpleasantness index called the U-
index (Kahneman & Krueger, 2006). In this paper we focus on average
net aect, average individual positive emotions, and the frequency of
experienced peak happiness emotion as measures of EWB.
2.2. Survey design and implementation in smart phone
The data for this study comes from a larger the Neighborhood
Environment, Daily Activity and Well-Being Study conducted by the
authors in the Minneapolis Metro area over a period of a year, from
October 17, 2016 to October 25, 2017. While the larger study focused
on the broad features of the built environment (Fan et al., 2018), this
paper reports EWB associated with gardening in the context of other
human-infrastructure interactions.
Overall, the study recruited 404 participants to respond to an entry
survey, a 7-day Day Reconstruction Method based diary tracked using
the cell phone App Daynamica, and an exit survey that queried them if
they engaged in any gardening during the past week. The percentages
surveyed by the season over the study period were: 27% during the
spring, 33% during the summer, 25% in the fall and 15% in the winter.
Of the 404 recruited participants, 370 completed all parts of the study,
which serves as the sample size in the analysis reported on this paper.
Survey participants were recruited from six pre-selected neighbor-
hoods, including four urban and two suburban, so as to cover a range of
land use distribution, open space, housing type, community services,
access to amenities, etc. seen across the city. Variation in income levels
was also sought, hence, the urban setting consisted of two low-income
and two medium-income neighborhoods, while the suburban setting
consisted of one low-income and one-medium-income neighborhood.
Among the 2443 census blocks associated with the six selected
neighborhoods, 921 were randomly selected to recruit the participants
to the survey. Across these 921 census blocks, the ACS 2017 ve-year
estimates identify a population of 44,573 and an average household
size of 2.90 persons. All homes in the randomly selected blocks were
post carded with a brief study description and contact information for
the research group. Interested participants then contacted the research
group by phone or email, at which point, they received a more in-depth
description of the project. If they were still interested in participating,
the research team set up an appointment to meet with the participant.
This study used a three-phase interaction approach with partici-
pants. In the rst phase, participants met with a member of the research
team where an introductory survey was administered to obtain key
demographic information. In the second phase, a phone with an ap-
plication-based Day Reconstruction Method (Daynamica
) was ad-
ministered to the participant to collect dynamic, EWB data linked to the
participants daily activities.
(Fan et al., 2017; Fan et al., 2019) detects activities
and trips in real time to construct sequenced activity/trip episodes
throughout the day. It also allows the user to annotate the detected
activities/trips with additional information such as emotional experi-
ences during each activity/trip at their convenience. For each activity,
participants are asked to rank (on a seven-point scale) six emotions
(Happy, Pain, Sad, Tired, Stressed, and Meaningful). The Daynamica
app was preloaded to a phone owned by the research team, which was
supplied to the participant for the 7-day period.
In the third phase, an exit survey was administered by a member of
the research team after one week. This survey was used as a check of
completion and understanding with the application-based Day
Reconstruction Method. During the exit interview, participants were
asked Did you grow some of your own food at your home or at a
community garden?This question was used to determine if partici-
pants who cited an activity in their log as including gardening were
Ornamental Gardeners (having logged time gardening but having not
produced their own food) or Vegetable Gardeners (having logged time
gardening and produced their own food). Recruitment was conducted
in a manner that gave no predisposition to the research teams interest
in gardening activities. This was done to maintain unbiased EWB re-
Additionally, geo-location provided via the Daynamica
tion was used to determine the location of the gardening activity, thus
denoting gardeners as household gardeners rather than gardeners who
gardened away from their households as would be the case for com-
munity gardens. The overall methodology used in this study comes
from previous work establishing EWB of transportation systems (Fan
et al., 2019); here we use the same methodology to focus on the EWB of
For each the participants, data were collected over the course of a
week. With the smartphone-enhanced Day Reconstruction Method, the
research team calculated three types of EWB measures: average net
aect scores, average positive emotion scores, and frequency of ex-
perienced peak emotion.
Average Net Aect was calculated as outlined by Krueger et al.
(2014) for each activity over one week. The mean of four individual,
negative emotions measurements (tired, stress, sad, and pain) was
subtracted from the mean of two individual positive emotions
(happy and meaningful). For each individual event that a partici-
pant logs, a net aect score is calculated. From these data, an in-
dividuals average net aect score can be computed for each activity
(e.g., biking, gardening, etc.) for each participant. . The survey po-
pulation statistics for average net aect are then developed for
gardening versus other activities.
Average Positive Emotion (Happiness & Meaningfulness): Because
gardening is an activity often associated with positive dynamic
emotions in literature, we calculate both happiness and mean-
ingfulness scores separately for each activity an individual engages
in over the one week period. Individual average happiness scores
and individual average meaningfulness scores can be assessed for
each activity type (e.g., gardening, biking, working), from which
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
survey population statistics are developed.
Frequency of Experienced Peak Emotion during Gardening versus
other activities: Over a period of one week, we also wanted to un-
derstand which activities (gardening versus other activities) can
contribute to a high level of positive emotions for each individual.
Therefore, for each participant, a 90th percentile score for happi-
nessand meaningfulness(henceforth this 90th percentile
threshold will be referred to as a participantspeak happiness
thresholdor peak meaningfulness threshold) was calculated across
all the participants events. For each participant and for each ac-
tivity type (i.e. gardening, biking, working, etc.), we then assessed
the frequency an activity typeshappinessand meaningfulness
scores for individual events exceeded the participants peak happi-
ness and peak meaningfulness threshold reported over the one week
2.3. Analysis
Average scores for net aect, average positive emotion and fre-
quency of experiencing peak emotion was calculated across activities
and attribute categories. These averages were then analyzed for dif-
ference using ANOVA tests and a post-hoc Tukey HSDs to calculate the
p-value and 95% condence intervals. In addition, a multivariable re-
gression was performed on net aectduring gardening to strengthen
results established through the ANOVA testing.
3. Results
We organize our results into four categories. First, we oer a de-
mographic description of the study sample. Second, we present the
engagement of participants in household gardening in the context of
other activities. Third, ve EWB measures (average net aect, average
happiness, average meaningfulness, frequency of experiencing peak
happiness, and frequency of experiencing peak meaningfulness) are
reported for household gardening and are compared to reported EWB
and frequency of peak happiness experienced during other activities.
Last, the average net aect of household gardening is compared across
the attributes of the gardener (by gender, income, urban-suburban lo-
cation) and the type of gardening (ornamental vs vegetable gardening).
3.1. Study sample and demographics
Of the 370 survey participants, 126 (34.1%) were male and 244
(65.9%) were female. Seventy-three respondents (19.7%) self-reported
as low-income($24,999 or less household income in 2017 before
taxes), 130 (35.1%) self-reported as medium-income$25,000-
$74,999) and 167 (45.1%) self-reported as high-income($75,000 or
greater). In addition, 266 (71.8%) lived in urban neighborhoods, based
on census classication.
Of the 118 (31.4%) who logged gardening, 73 participants (19.7%)
self-identied as vegetable gardeners and 45 (12.2%) were determined
to be ornamental gardeners. Of the 118 gardeners only one gardening
event was logged at a geo-location away from a participants home geo-
location. This event was removed from the sample so results could re-
ect household gardening.Table 1
3.1.1. Human engagement with gardening in the context of other sectors
and activities
Table 2 expresses participant engagement in gardening in the con-
text of other activities. Of the 168 h in a week, a vast majority (111.2 h,
66.2% of time spent over a week) is spent at home, which may include
various sub-activities, such as sleeping, cooking or watch television,
gardening, and others. The remaining 57 h (on average) per week are
dominated by work (23.84 h, 41.9% of the remaining time), leisure/
recreation (12.25 h, 21.5% of the remaining time) and then various
modes of travel (23.84 h, 41.9% of the remaining time).
Each time the respondent changed location (tracked by the GPS),
they were asked if the activity included sub-activities (multiple choice),
such as gardening, volunteering, religious activity, etc. When the home-
location included the sub-activity of gardening, it was identied as a
household gardening activity.
Since household gardening was identied as a sub-label within an
activity category (such as at homeor leisure/recreation), we could
not be certain how accurately respondents reported their time spent
gardening at home. Therefore, we used the American Time Use Surveys
(ATUS) as a reference, yielding an ATUS average of 1.53 h per week
gardening, with 4.25 h per week representing a two standard deviations
high-gardening time spent threshold. We then applied the 4.25 h as a
cut-oto our study responses, excluding unusually high gardening
times as survey error, and found our study average time for gardening
per respondent was 1.45 h per week gardening. This result from our
survey is reported in Table 2, and is similar to the American Time Use
Surveys (ATUS) estimate of 1.53 h per week (calculated from the
20032016 Multi-Year American Time Use Survey database). When
calculating an imputed average time spent per week gardening (the 164
gardening events with a duration greater than 4.25 h being imputed
with the ATUS average of 1.53), the studys average time spent gar-
dening per week is calculated as 1.52 h per week.
3.1.2. Key results in Table 2 and Table 3 are as follows:
Of 370 people surveyed, 31% participate in gardening activities.
Relatively few hours per week are spent gardening, at ~ 1.45 to
1.53 h per week on average, which is comparable to other leisure
activities such as walking (1.64 h/wk) and eating out (2.30 h/
For Ornamental Gardeners and Vegetable Gardeners, Table 3 shows
similar levels of engagement with gardening, between 2 and 3 times
per week, and do not prove to be signicantly dierent.
3.1.3. Well-being measurements of gardening in the context of other sectors
and activities
Fig. 1 shows the ve dierent EWB measures for gardening in the
context of other activities. Average net aect as well as the average
individual emotions of happinessand meaningfulnessare shown both
as a mean (on the left side) for the specic activity of gardening across
all participants. Also shown on the right panel, are the frequency of
experiencing peak happiness and the frequency of experiencing peak
meaningfulness for each identied activity averaged across all partici-
It is noteworthy that gardening is consistently among the top ve
Table 1
Demographic Comparison between Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area and Survey
Metro Variable Sample
51% Gender 66%
60% Living with Spouse/partner 60%
37 Age (median) 50
63% Employed Full Time 43%
19% Disabled 20%
47% Children Under 18 Present 31%
81% White 77%
6% Asian 4%
8% Black 11%
1% American Indian 2%
3% Multiple 5%
5% LESS THAN $10,000 7%
11% $10,000 TO $24,999 10%
20% $25,000 TO $49,999 16%
18% $50,000 TO $74,999 19%
14% $75,000 TO $99,999 17%
25% $100,000 OR MORE 27%
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
activities associated with high average net aect, average happiness,
and average meaningfulness scores as well as the frequency in experi-
encing peak meaningfulness. All gures show which activities are sig-
nicantly dierent from gardening. Condence intervals are absent
from gardening, since all condence intervals express signicant dif-
ference from gardening as the reference group. For example, in Fig. 1,a
net aect during shopping is signicantly dierent from gardening, but
one cannot say there is signicant dierence between shopping and
riding the bus.
Among all three average measures of emotions (net aect, happi-
ness, meaningfulness), gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities
assessed, and, is not statistically dierent from biking, walking and
eating out. These three average metrics indicate gardening to be on par
with eating out, walking and biking. Nominally, gardening is ranked
4th for average net aect and average happiness (focusing on that
single emotion), while ranked 2nd in average meaningfulness. These
results suggest that while other (unidentied) leisure activities are
highly ranked, gardening soon follows in the top category. Gardening
may have a particular role in being meaningful, and should be eval-
uated in further studies.
In contrast, the frequency of experiencing peak happiness(1C)
shows that only the top-ranked activity (leisure/recreation) is sig-
nicantly dierent from gardening. For the frequency of experiencing
peak meaningfulness(1E), education nominally emerges second after
other leisure/recreation, while gardening ranks 4th. However, none if
these activities are statistically dierent from gardening. The only ac-
tivities signicantly dierent from gardening are at the extreme bottom
of the ranked activities (i.e. travel by car, shopping, travel by rail).
The shifting in ranks of the various activities oers nuance about
their role in shaping EWB in urban areas, and could be further explored
in future studies.
3.1.4. The features of gardening and gardeners as they are associated with
Fig. 2 explores the demographic attributes inuencing average net
aect scores while gardening, and compares them with the top ve
activities by net aect, as identied by Fig. 2A(i.e. gardening, leisure/
recreation, eating out, biking and walking). The socio-demographic
variables depicted in Fig. 2 are: gardener type (vegetable vs orna-
mental), gender, income and race, as well as urban vs suburban loca-
tion, and companionship during gardening. We also conduct a multi-
variable regression focused solely on net aect during gardening
(shown later in Table 4).
For Fig. 3A, 3B, 3D and 3F, ANOVAs tests and post-hoc Tukey HSDs
were used to calculate the p-value and 95% condence intervals; thus,
condence intervals are absent from the reference group in each ac-
tivity grouping (i.e. Vegetable Gardener in 3A, Low-income in 3B, By
Ones Self in 3D, and White in 3F). In addition, signicance is only
shown in comparison to the reference group and does not express sig-
nicant dierence between the second, third, fourth, and/or fth bars.
For example, in Fig. 2A, the average net aect score for vegetable
gardenersis signicantly dierent than non-gardenerswhile walking.
One cannot say, from Fig. 2A, there is signicant dierence between the
average net aect score of ornamental gardenersand non-gardeners.
In contrast, t-tests were used, since only two factors were compared, to
calculate the p-value and 95% condence intervals for Fig. 2C and 3E,
for race and gender, respectively.
3.1.5. Key take-away from Fig. 2.
Focusing only on net aect associated with gardening, Fig. 2 overall
shows average net aect experienced during gardening diers sig-
nicantly by gardening type (Fig. 2A vegetable vs ornamental), income
level (Fig. 2B), and gender (Fig. 2C). Other factors such as compa-
nionship during gardening (2D), urban vs suburban location (2E) and
race (2F) did not have a signicant impact on average net aect ex-
perienced during gardening.
Fig. 2A (gardener type) shows vegetable gardeners have sig-
nicantly greater average net aect during gardening compared to
ornamental gardeners. Vegetable gardeners appear to also generally
have signicantly higher average net aect for all ve activities
Table 2
Engagement in Various Activities across all 370 study Participants detailing A: Percentage of Participants Engaged in Individual Activates, B: Average Frequency
of Engagement in Event over the Week, C: Time Spent Per Event, D: Population Weighted Average of Duration of Event (calculated as a product of A, B, and C).
A) Percent of Participants Engaged in
Individual Activities (%)
B) Average Frequency of Engagement in the
Activity over the Week (count/wk)
C) Time Spent on
Activity Per Week (Hr)
D) Population Weighted Average of
Duration of Event (Hr)
Bike 18.6 1.46 0.50 0.25
Bus 21.6 1.36 0.53 0.30
Car 94.3 21.26 7.66 0.28
Eating Out 71.1 1.99 2.30 0.86
Education 30.3 0.99 2.99 2.25
GARDENING AT HOME 30.5 0.89 1.45
Leisure/Recreation* 86.2 5.35 12.25 1.70
Rail 11.4 0.44 0.21 0.36
Shop 85.4 4.54 3.14 0.51
Waiting 37.0 0.82 0.10 0.09
Walk 84.9 8.76 1.64 0.14
Work 66.2 4.75 23.84 3.70
n = 370 participants; *May occur at home or away from the home
Time Spent and Durations for Gardening are reported from the American Time Use Survey NOTE:
total hours in a week are 168 of which about 111 h are spent at home and are not reported as specic activities.
Table 3
Engagement in Gardening across Gardener Type detailing A: Number of Participants, B: Average Frequency of Engagement in Event over the Week.
A) Number of Participants B) Average Frequency of Engagement in the Activity over the Week
Ornamental Gardeners 45 2.40
Vegetable Gardeners 73 3.05
Survey Responds Across All Participants (gardeners and non-gardens from
Table 1)
370 0.89
Signicance denoted between Ornamental and Vegetable Gardeners:*:p-value < 0.05; **:p-value < 0.01; ***: p-value < 0.001.
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
Fig. 1. Emotional well-being measures of gardening in the context of other sectors and activities.
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
compared to non-gardeners, and signicantly higher scores than orna-
mental gardeners for three specic activities: gardening, bike and lei-
sure/recreation. These results suggest vegetable gardeners may be a
sub-population experiencing higher net aect over a range of activities.
Focusing on income, Fig. 2B shows low-income survey respondents
reported signicantly higher average net aect compared to medium
and high-income respondents. Likewise, gardening is the only activity
in the top ve activities where female participants have signicantly
higher average net aect scores than male participants (Fig. 2C). Gar-
dening thus seems to be dierent from the other activities, such as
leisure/recreation, biking, walking and eating out, as it is associated
with a signicant and positive response for women and lower income
survey respondents.
Companionship during gardening (with whom), suburban or
urban location, and race (Figures 3D, 3E, 3F) do not show a signicant
impact on a participants net aect while participating in gardening
events. It is notable that companionship while gardening is not sig-
nicant since existing literature touts gardening, particularly gardening
at community gardens, as important due to its social and communal
connections for gardeners. However, our results show that net aect
scores of household gardeners not signicantly impacted by compa-
In addition, for all activities other than gardening, participating in
the activity with ones spouseshowed a signicantly higher average
net aect score when compared to participating in the activity by
oneself.Across all activities for the attributes suburban or urbanand
race,dierences in average net aect scores prove to be either insig-
nicant or inconsistent.
Table 4 presents a multi-variable OLS regression that explores the
association of various sociodemographic variables and average net af-
fect reported during gardening. The results, consistent with Fig. 2, show
that income, type of gardening (vegetable vs ornamental) and gender
are key signicant variables associated with EWB during household
gardening. Dieners Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)(1985) scores for
each participant were used as a proxy to account for potential general
EWB variations across participants.
4. Discussion
4.1. Urban planning and policy context
Urban gardening, whether household or community gardening, in-
tersects with three urban planning and policy agendas. First, gardening
is one of many activities, such as biking and walking, that can con-
tribute to enhancing EWB in urban areas, which is a measure of quality
of life. Enhancing quality of life of residents, while promoting en-
vironmental sustainability, is a goal of several citieslivable and sus-
tainability plans (e.g., Melbourne, Australia; Lowe et al. (2013)), in-
cluding for the City of Minneapolis, where this study was conducted.
While there are numerous indicators of quality of life (e.g., the Mercer
Index, Economic Intelligence Unit; Korpela et al., 2016), they do not
address the diversity of activities in urban areas. New protocols, such as
those developed in this paper, directly measure well-being of urban
residents, in the context of multiple activities, can oer new ways of
informing which activities and sectors shape quality of life for which
demographic groups in cities.
Fig. 2. Net aect measurements of gardening, and other top activities, across gardener types and attributes.
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
A second urban planning agenda more specically focuses on urban
agriculture, wherein, more than 187 cities worldwide have signed on to
the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFP, 2015). Increasing the amount
of urban agriculture is listed as one among several key strategies that
can contribute to food security, livelihoods and livability in urban
areas. While many studies have assessed the impacts of community
gardens on these factors, very few have assessed the benets of
household gardens in the global north (Taylor & Lovell, 2014).
Last, and more broadly, the promotion of local food production is
considered to be more environmentally sustainable although the sci-
ence is not yet conclusive (Santo, Palmer, & Kim, 2016). Several cities
are also including greenhouse gas emissions associated with food pro-
duction in their city scale carbon footprint accounts, and often pro-
moting local agriculture as a means to reduce its carbon footprint
(Ramaswami, Hillman, Janson, Reiner, & Thomas, 2008; Goldstein,
2017). Thus a better understanding of urban agriculture is consistent
with SDG #11, sustainable cities and communities.
4.2. Signicant of the study results
Despite an increased interest in policy and research on urban gar-
dening, few studies have explored the EWB impacts of household gar-
dening, nor compared gardening in the contexts of other activities. This
paper pilots a new method for better quantitative understanding of
EWB associated with gardening, exploring ve measures of EWB across
a range or urban activities important to shaping livability. The results of
this paper yield four main takeaways, which are discussed below.
4.2.1. Household gardening is associated with high-EWB, similar to biking
and walking
This study makes a signicant contribution to the literature by
nding, among 15 diverse urban activities, gardening is ranked near the
top for three dierent measure of EWB including, average net aect,
average happiness and average meaningfulness. Nominally, gardening
ranks fourth for average net aect and average happiness; it ranks
behind other leisure/recreationfor these two measures, and is not
statistically dierent from biking, walking and eating out. For mean-
ingfulness, gardening ranks second behind events participants denoted
as leisure/recreation, but is not statistically dierent from either lei-
sure/recreation, biking, walking, or eating out. However, in the context
of frequency of experiencing peak happiness, only leisure/recreation
stood out from the other (14) activities; therefore, gardening may not
oer the frequency of experiencing peak happiness to the extent that
events participants denote as leisure and recreationdo. In whole, the
results of this study suggest gardening is not dierent (statistically)
from other activities recognized to oer high EWB, such as bicycling
and walking. However, the percentage of people engaged in gardening
in our survey sample (30%) is higher than those biking (18%). Yet,
bicycling programs have received far more attention from urban plan-
ners. This study thus suggests that cities consider investments sup-
porting household gardening as they consider other ways to enhance
urban livability.
4.2.2. Vegetable gardening vs ornamental gardening
In addition to gardenings EWB measures in the context of other
activities, the study also elucidated the impacts of gardener types and
gardener attributes on gardenings net aect scores. First, vegetable
gardeners, on average, had a 0.75 higher net aect score while gar-
dening (calculated from six emotions on a seven-point scale) compared
to ornamental gardeners. The connection between gardening and mean
meaningfulness, as a proxy of life purpose, might explain the net aect
dierences between vegetable and ornamental gardeners while gar-
dening. The additional importance of producing food or maintaining a
connection to a larger identity, such as the identity linked to producing
ones own food, may play a role in the higher EWB scores for vegetable
gardeners (Collier, 2018; Petrovic et al., 2018). With these results in
mind, promoting interventions focused on vegetable gardening, rather
than gardening more broadly, could oers the greatest opportunity for
EWB impacts.
4.2.3. The equity implications of household gardening
It is also interesting that, in this study, for all activities (leisure/
recreation, eating out, walking and biking) other than gardening, low-
income and female participants report average net aect scores that are
signicantly lower than both medium-income, high-income and male
participants, respectively (Fig. 2B&C). This demonstrates gardening is
an outlier activity in the sense that being low-income and female does
not appear to lower ones net aect scores while engaging in gardening,
as is the case with other activities.
Our results show low-income gardeners having 0.667 higher net
aect scores than medium-income gardeners and 1.251 higher net af-
fect scores than high-income gardeners. In addition, female gardeners
report, on average, 0.394 higher net aect scores than their male
counterparts. These results raise interesting equity questions on which
activities to invest for creating more livable and equitable cities, be-
cause our ndings indicate that household gardening was the only ac-
tivity that disproportionally beneted women and low-income partici-
pants. Indeed, a pilot backyard gardening intervention in Pittsburgh
found qualitative, self-reported improvement in wellness, eating habits
and access to fresh produce for low-income residents participating in a
household gardening program (Sickler, 2018). Both our study and the
study in Pittsburgh are among the few that address household gar-
dening, since most of the previous studies in the US have focused on the
multiple benets of community gardening
Table 4
Multiple Regression for Net Aect while Gardening.
n = 118; Multiple R-squared: 0.3436; Adjusted R-squared: 0.3077
Estimate P-values
Gardening Type
Vegetable Gardeners
Ornamental Gardeners 0.7560 0.0009***
Household Income
Low (< 50 k)
Middle (50 k-100 k) 0.6670 0.0406*
High (greater than100 k) 1.2507 0.0004***
With Whom
By Oneself
Spouse 0.0675 0.5715
Friends and Acquaintances 0.0840 0.6253
Ones Children 0.1392 0.4359
Urban 0.1625 0.4631
Hispanic 0.6209 0.1739
Asian/Asian-American 0.3955 0.6604
Black/African-American 0.1885 0.7568
Native American 0.0008 0.9996
Multiple 0.0779 0.1082
Education Level
Less than Bachelors
Bachelors 0.0779 0.7911
Greater than Bachelors 0.2002 0.4964
Female 0.3939 0.0371*
Age (continuous; 1987) 0.0126 0.0398*
SWLS Score (continuous; 535) 0.1472 0.0000***
*:p-value < 0.05; **:p-value < 0.01; ***: p-value < 0.001 NOTE: Attributes
are discrete: estimate values are relative to the rst attribute in the group.
Values are continuousas marked.
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
4.2.4. EWB while gardening at home alone is no dierent from with
company; implications for community gardening
Lastly, our results (Fig. 2D) found that there was no signicant
dierent in net aect between participating in a gardening event by
ones self and participating with a companion. This suggests household
gardening may be dierent from community gardening, which has been
touted as an integral social settings for cross-cultural and generational
interactions (Armstrong, 2000; Beckie & Bogdan, 2010), as well as a
keystone for community building activities and organization (Teig,
2009; Holland, 2004). This sense of agency and social connectivity
during community gardening has been shown to improve self-reported
mental health when comparing community gardeners to non-gardeners
in urban settings (Teig, 2009, Litt, 2015). However, other literatures
conrm that nature-based experiences do not need companionship to
yield EWB benets (Korpela, 2014). Thus, our study interestingly shows
that high EWB, commensurate with EWB levels associated with biking
and walking, can be achieved at home while gardening alone.
4.3. Our results in the context of other studies
Prior studies of leisure activitiesimpact on EWB have found do-it-
yourselfactivities, such as urban gardening, are associated with
greater EWB outcomes due to the participants association with ac-
complishment, identity, and social connectivity rather than a specic
positive moodin the moment (Collier, 2018; Wolf, 2013). Do-it-
yourself,here, refers to the cultural movement of creating products at
home or from scratch,rather than doing it by yourself(i.e. without
companionship). These studies emphasized the life purposeaspect of
gardening and show the dynamic, aective emotions linked to gar-
dening are low compared to other leisure activities like baking, pho-
tography and painting (Collier, 2018). The insights from prior studies
are consistent with our results, since gardening ranks in the top two for
average meaningfulness.
This study is the rst attempt, to our knowledge, to evaluate EWB
associated with urban household gardening in the global north.
However, we acknowledge urban gardening may also have health dis-
benets depending on the environmental context, e.g. lead in may
urban soils in the US where gardening is not advised (EPA, 2020) and in
the developing world, where soil and water contamination by fecal
coliforms can be wide spread (Miller-Robbie and Ramaswami, 2017). In
these situations the health concerns might outweigh any EWB benets
of urban gardening.
4.4. Limitations
While this is a pilot study which has made key contributions, there
are some limitations. First, because this was a pilot study limited to six
neighborhoods in the Twin-Cities, the results cannot be generalized.
Second, while the team made all eorts possible to avoid any sort of
selection bias, because the potential respondents were asked to contact
the study team via phone and email, those who do not have access to or
are uncomfortable with using these means to communicate may be
excluded from the study. There may also be bias based on peoplesle-
vels of comfort using smartphones provided for the study. Third, since
is an app-based Day Reconstruction Method, we re-
cognize the data collected represents recalled EWB data (remembered
utility). While time-based methods (i.e. contacting the respondent one
or two times per day) may oer a reduction in recall bias, it will not
track the varied activities we are comparing in this paper (e.g. house-
hold gardening, with other leisure and day-to-day activities), which will
require signicantly more record keeping by the participant which di-
minishes participant retention. Finally, gardening was not one of the
primary activity categories collected by the Daynamica
app but ra-
ther was a sub-category.
4.5. Future works
Future work can advance the methodology as well as the focus of
study. First, in terms of the method, the Daynamica
app could in-
tegrate gardening more specically as a primary activity similar to
biking or walking.
Second, our results should be repeated with community gardeners,
exploring how it diers both qualitatively and quantitatively from
household gardening. Quantitative comparisons can address both the
fraction of urban residents who engage in community gardens, as well
as the association with EWB. Such studies can help in the design of city
supported gardening interventions, helping understand if greater
quality of life benets to more people are oered through household or
community gardens, and, to shape the experience in ways that track
with the dierent measures and nuances highlighted here.
Third, qualitative studies exploring how the experience of gardening
contributes to improved EWB is needed. For example, household gar-
dener may garden alone and nd the activity meaningful contributing
to greater EWB; while community gardeners may nd their social in-
teractions contribute to increased EWB. By further exploring these
through the more nuanced methods shown and with interviews, prac-
titioners and planners can better understand the nuances when im-
plementing gardening interventions.
5. Conclusion
Urban gardening intersects with three major planning agendas in
cities: (1) livable city agendas, which seek to enhance quality of life; (2)
the Milan Urban Food Pact, which focuses on urban gardening as one of
multiple factors associated with food security; and (3) the SDGs, par-
ticularly SDG #11, which identies sustainable cities and communities
as a key goal. This paper has developed a protocol to measure EWB
benets associated with household gardening, in the context of other
infrastructure provisioning and leisure activities, which can inform the
triple goals of developing livable, equitable and sustainable cities. More
specically, this paper establishes a protocol for urban decision makers
to better assess the quality of life benets from urban household gar-
dening both in the context of other activities, and who receives these
benets by income, race and gender.
Our results highlight four key takeaways.
Household gardening is associated with high-EWB, which is similar
to Biking and Walking.
Vegetable gardening is associated with higher EWB than ornamental
Household gardening is the only activity, in this study, where
women and low-income participants report higher EWB than men
and medium/high-income participants respectively.
EWB while gardening at home alone is no dierent from gardening
with company.
Therefore, household vegetable gardening should be considered
amongst other livability investments, such as biking and walking in-
frastructure, in cities. Additionally, backyard gardening alone may
provide EWB benets similar to the purported EWB benets of com-
munity gardens, thus both should be considered as cities address liva-
bility investments. While this implies the importance in the act of ve-
getable gardening itself, nuances between household and community
gardenersEWB still needs to be unpacked.
National Science Foundations Sustainable Research Network Award
Number: #1444745.
G. Ambrose, et al. Landscape and Urban Planning 198 (2020) 103776
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Graham Ambrose: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal ana-
lysis, Writing - original draft, Writing - review & editing, Visualization.
Kirti Das: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - review & editing,
Project administration. Yingling Fan: Conceptualization, Methodology,
Writing - review & editing, Funding acquisition, Project administration.
Anu Ramaswami: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - original
draft, Writing - review & editing, Funding acquisition, Project admin-
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... The perception of space for agriculture around cities is changing since agricultural areas are no longer merely seen as land reserves in anticipation of future urbanisation (Aubry et al., 2012). As cities seek to enhance both liveability and sustainability in the framework of sustainable development of urban areas, the importance of agricultural lands in urban planning, particularly at the local level, is receiving much attention (Ambrose, Das, Fan, & Ramaswami, 2020;Torre, 2014). Some city council authorities have keenly worked on plans that improve household food security through urban food production (Gerster-Bentaya, 2013). ...
... Secondly, it could be that urban residents in and around vegetable production areas express an increased willingness to keep producing their own food (Awah Manga, 2019). The production of own vegetables has been identified as a driver of high emotional well-being among urban residents (Ambrose et al., 2020;Petrovic, Simpson, Orlove, & Dowd-Uribe, 2019). ...
... In addition to zoning, deeper policies supporting vegetable production areas should be implemented. Indeed, as Ambrose et al. (2020) noted, urban food production nowadays meets three major planning agendas in cities. It can contribute to the quality of life, food security, and environmental sustainability in urban areas. ...
In the context of rapid and unplanned urbanisation in many Sub-Saharan African cities, the social and political context of urban and peri-urban vegetable production is becoming unfriendly despite its multifunctionality in achieving human development. This paper aims at measuring the effects of urbanisation on urban residents’ perception of vegetable production in urban and peri-urban areas of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Data from a survey conducted by the World Vegetable Centre among urban residents living within and around vegetable production areas was employed for the study. The results show that urban residents agree with vegetable production in their vicinity, but depending on the extent of urbanisation, the magnitude of their positive perception varies significantly from one production area to another. More specifically, while proximity to the city centre increases the likelihood of urban residents’ ability to agree with local vegetable production, the density of the population decreases this positive perception instead.
... Based on the perception results of the respondents, we locate different cultural services from two dimensions: importance and satisfaction. Among the demographic characteristics, education level has a wide-ranging impact on cultural services, and income is positively correlated with perception, while other factors have a relatively small impact [58]. This may be due to the variety of educational and knowledge services offered by the eight parks in the research area, such as People's Park, with a national huai tree with a ...
... Based on the perception results of the respondents, we locate different cultural services from two dimensions: importance and satisfaction. Among the demographic characteristics, education level has a wide-ranging impact on cultural services, and income is positively correlated with perception, while other factors have a relatively small impact [58]. This may be due to the variety of educational and knowledge services offered by the eight parks in the research area, such as People's Park, with a national huai tree with a lifespan of 170 years, and parks with historical and commercial ruins. ...
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Urban parks are the primary green infrastructure for urban residents to pursue psychological restoration, promote health, relax and connect with nature. The various cultural ecosystem services (CES) provided by urban parks directly impact people’s health and well-being. Understanding the correlation between CES provided by urban parks and the different characteristics of specific groups can promote public willingness to engage with the nature and their health and well-being, and the effective information provided by CES can be used to protect and improve specific or traditional areas of parks. This study focuses on two urban parks (People’s Park and Xiliu Lake Park) located in the central urban area of Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China. A questionnaire survey and participatory mapping methods were employed to explore the priority for 10 types of CES among both local residents and visitors, aiming to reveal the public demand for CES in urban parks and provide a basis for the landscape design or renovation of urban parks. The results show that (1) the main purposes for the public visiting the parks are mental relaxation, scenery appreciation, and leisure and fitness. (2) The public has a rich perception of various types of CES in the urban parks, especially in terms of entertainment and aesthetic value. (3) The impact of education level on cultural services was substantial. (4) The trade-offs and synergies of CES of urban parks are complex and diverse. (5) The public’s perception of urban park CES and spatial value tend to be similar, with a wide distribution. Therefore, to maintain urban sustainable development, urban managers and landscape designers should consider different perspectives on CES provided by urban park stakeholders and enhance their CES through landscape design and renovation practices in urban parks, thereby improving the health and well-being of the public.
... . In terms of well-being, reviewed literature and studies provided positive outcomes.Ambrose et al. (2020) concluded that household gardening is strongly associated with increased emotional well-being and positive emotions such as happiness and meaningfulness. Moreover,Schmutz et al. (2014) signified that involvement in gardening promotes good mental health, reduces stress, depression, and self-harming behaviour as well as improving alertnes ...
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Commercial trading of plants is one of the most unregulated money-making industries in the world, especially in Asia. In the Philippines, many plant species, especially the endemics are already threatened of extinction. One of the threats faced by these species is the commercial trade of ornamental plants. Though prohibited under the wildlife resources conservation and protection laws, the trade persists due to their popularity in social media and local plant collectors. As such, this research aimed to quantitatively assess the illegal trade of ornamental plants in Valencia City, Bukidnon, Philippines. Specifically, it aimed to i) determine the socio-demographic profile of traders, ii) determine the species richness of the ornamental plants illegally traded, iii) determine the quantity of ornamental plant species illegally traded, iv) identify factors that drive the exploitation of the ornamental plants, and v) determine the distribution of the ornamental plants in different areas of Valencia City. The research adopted a covert research approach to monitor the plant trade activities in various street markets of Valencia City, Bukidnon. Observations and interviews have been discretely recorded using mobile phones and audio recorder to collect the data. The survey included both the wild species and cultivated ornamental plants. A total of 140 morphotypes (species, cultivars, hybrids, and varieties) belonging to 60 genera and 33 botanical families were recorded. A total of 1, 473 individual plants were recorded in five barangays of Valencia City. Aroids or arums of the Family Araceae were the most traded and collected ornamental plants with 10 genera and 48 morphotypes. This is followed by Acanthaceae (3 genera; 13 morphotypes), Asparagaceae (3 genera; 12 morphotypes), Commelinaceae (3 genera; 12 morphotypes), Euphorbiaceae (3 genera; 6 morphotypes), Orchidaceae (3 genera; 5 morphotypes) and Polypodiaceae (2 genera; 5 morphotypes).
... The current literature is limited in its understanding of how data collection could vary by the diverse greenspace quality and cultural relevance, and it is suggested that data be collected at different times of the day ( ), during different seasons ( Kabisch and Kraemer, 2020;Keith et al., 2018;Campbell et al., 2016), Frank andFrantzeskaki 2015), and data over a period of time ( (Ruijsbroek et al., 2017)). Some authors call for adding technology like smartphones and social media into data collection to better understand individual and community behaviors and social connectedness (Glennie 2020;Ambrose et al., 2020), ) or including corroborative evidence (Glennie 2020;Kingsley et al., 2020). Technical equipment can also be used to influence park visitors ( Campbell et al., 2016)). ...
... R ecreational activities and aesthetic pleasure motivate US homeowners to purchase landscape products and services (Ambrose et al. 2020;Chalmin-Pui et al. 2021). Many homeowners invest significant money and time in improving their gardens, yards, and lawns; furthermore, numerous kinds of tools and equipment have become necessities for people who choose DIY landscaping and gardening. ...
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The economic downturns of 2007–09 and the COVID-19 pandemic affected most industries in the United States, including landscape services and equipment sales, and provoked both short-term disruptions and long-term changes. To understand how the landscaping industry has responded, we investigated patterns of consumer expenditures on landscape services and equipment from 2009 through 2021 using a representative sample of 76,895 US households. We categorized US households as detached single-family residents and townhouse residents to more fully articulate the factors that turned potential consumers into purchasers and the factors that affected purchasers’ expenditures. We used a double-hurdle model to identify key factors that drive consumer demand for landscape services and equipment over time, including social-demographics, geographic characteristics, housing conditions, year and seasonal trends, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that during the studied period, the demand for landscape services declined in terms of both the percentage of consumers purchasing the services and the purchasers’ average expenditures, while the demand for do-it-yourself (DIY) equipment remained relatively unchanged. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of consumers who purchased landscape services increased, while the expenditures on landscape services decreased in 2020 and then began to rebound in 2021, but not enough to reverse the overall downward trend. In contrast, purchases of DIY equipment were relatively stable in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and mainly relied on current consumers.
There has been increasing interest in how green spaces and gardening contribute to people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing, and this interest has increased due to COVID-19. This article explores the particular experiences of migrant gardeners and the implications for their health and wellbeing. It draws on a qualitative research project that involved conducting semi-structured interviews with participants with migration heritage in and around a city in the north of England. The participants were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling; of the 25 participants, some were allotment holders, whilst the rest cultivated crops in their gardens or even on their balcony. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts generated themes that reflect current definitions of health, encompassing physical, mental and social wellbeing. However, whilst the findings confirm many positive effects of gardening, they also point to some ambivalence in relation to cultivation, outdoor practices and health, with evidence of neutral or even negative effects at times. The article explores the implications of these findings for initiatives to encourage gardening, such as social prescribing, and to address ‘green poverty’. An additional finding is that for gardeners with migration heritage, gardening can be understood in terms of cultural wellbeing. Consequently, there is a need to broaden the concept of wellbeing to include this cultural dimension.
Expressive terrariums are a recent intervention in the field of ecological art therapy, which combines nature-based horticultural therapy with arts-based activities. An expressive terrarium consists of a plant terrarium in a glass bowl that contains living plants and objects that form a personal artistic-creative whole. The aim of this preliminary qualitative study was to explore the meanings and effects of making and tending an expressive terrarium, as well as its potential as an intervention tool in creative arts therapies. Twenty-three college students were asked to describe their experiences. The findings yielded three themes: (1) their perceptions of the terrarium building workshop, (2) their experiences and feelings while making the terrarium and when (3) tending the terrarium over time. The building phase was shown to facilitate an experience of flow, emotional expression, transformation and elicitation of cognitive skills. The tending phase was perceived as building a relationship with the growing and changing terrarium. The terrarium itself was seen as promoting self-observation. Making and tending the terrarium allowed the participants to engage in developmental tasks and experiences related to young adulthood. These facets of the participants’ experiences thus support the use of the expressive terrarium in therapeutic settings.
We examine the relationship of home food procurement (HFP) during COVID-19 to emotional eating and stress using a statewide representative survey (n = 600) in Vermont. Women and people with a job change since COVID-19 were more likely to experience higher stress and emotional eating. Engaging in HFP, especially gardening, is associated with less emotional eating. However, people who fished, hunted, or canned more since the pandemic began were more likely to eat for emotional reasons and experience higher stress. These results suggest that gardening, even during a pandemic, may contribute to stress reduction, more so than other nature-based food production activities.
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While there is an extensive literature regarding the benefits of natural environments within urban settings, there is relatively little statistical research on the correlation of well-being with urban green space. This research uses social media to develop a methodology for understanding the varying levels of feelings in urban green space. Using a geolocated Twitter database, this research correlates quantified sentiment levels inside parks in New York City. It addresses the following: are people more positive when they are in parks as compared to when they are in other places? Specifically, among Twitter users in New York City do people who visit parks have more positive Twitter-sentiment expression compared to their sentiment in other places? Our results show that sentiment expressed in tweets varies between areas inside and outside of parks. We find that in Manhattan in-park tweets express less positive sentiment as compared to tweets outside of parks, but park visitors in the other boroughs of New York City generate more positive in-park tweets as compared to those outside of parks. We discuss the use of tweets as an indicator of the public expressed sentiment and derive suggestions for further research.
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Understanding trip happiness—a measurement of people’s emotional well-being during trips—is an essential aspect of people-oriented transportation planning. We use data collected via smartphones from 350 residents in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region to examine trip- and person-level factors associated with trip happiness. Trip mode, purpose, duration, distance, companionship, activities during the trip, and temporal characteristics of the trip are significantly associated with trip happiness. Mode and companionship are the strongest predictors of trip happiness. Among personal factors, age is the strongest predictor, followed by general happiness of the person. Race, gender, and neighborhood have modest effects on trip happiness.
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Existing evidence on the beneficial effects of nature on mental health comes from studies using cross-sectional designs. We developed a smartphone-based tool (Urban Mind; to examine how exposure to natural features within the built environment affects mental well-being in real time. The tool was used to monitor 108 individuals who completed 3013 assessments over a 1-week period. Significant immediate and lagged associations with mental well-being were found for several natural features. These associations were stronger in people with higher trait impulsivity, a psychological measure of one's tendency to behave with little forethought or consideration of the consequences, which is indicative of a higher risk of developing mental-health issues. Our investigation suggests that the benefits of nature on mental well-being are time-lasting and interact with an individual's vulnerability to mental illness. These findings have potential implications from the perspectives of global mental health as well as urban planning and design.
Technical Report
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Urban agriculture has become a popular topic for metropolitan areas to engage in on a program and policy level. It is touted as a means of promoting public health and economic development, building social capital, and repurposing unused land. Food policy councils and other groups that seek to position urban agriculture to policy makers often struggle with how to frame the benefits of and potential problems with urban agriculture. In some cases, the enthusiasm is ahead of the evidence. This review provides an overview of the documented sociocultural, health, environmental, and economic development outcomes of urban agriculture. Demonstrated and potential benefits, as well as risks and limitations, of this growing field will be discussed. We also offer recommendations for further research to strengthen the scholarship on urban agriculture.
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Nutrients and water found in domestic treated wastewater are valuable and can be reutilized in urban agriculture as a potential strategy to provide communities with access to fresh produce. In this paper, this proposition is examined by conducting a field study in the rapidly developing city of Hyderabad, India. Urban agriculture trade-offs in water use, energy use and GHG emissions, nutrient uptake, and crop pathogen quality are evaluated, and irrigation waters of varying qualities (treated wastewater, versus untreated water and groundwater) are compared. The results are counter-intuitive, and illustrate potential synergies and key constraints relating to the food–energy–water–health (FEW–health) nexus in developing cities. First, when the impact of GHG emissions from untreated wastewater diluted in surface streams is compared with the life cycle assessment of wastewater treatment with reuse in agriculture, the treatment-plus-reuse case yields a 33% reduction in life cycle system-wide GHG emissions. Second, despite water cycling benefits in urban agriculture, only <1% of the nutrients are able to be captured in urban agriculture, limited by the small proportion of effluent divertible to urban agriculture due to land constraints. Thus, water treatment plus reuse in urban farms can enhance GHG mitigation and also directly save groundwater; however, very large amounts of land are needed to extract nutrients from dilute effluents. Third, although energy use for wastewater treatment results in pathogen indicator organism concentrations in irrigation water to be reduced by 99.9% (three orders of magnitude) compared to the untreated case, crop pathogen content was reduced by much less, largely due to environmental contamination and farmer behavior and harvesting practices. The study uncovers key physical, environmental, and behavioral factors that constrain benefits achievable at the FEW-health nexus in urban areas.
This paper develops a methodology for individual cities to use to analyze the in-and trans-boundary water, greenhouse gas (GHG), and land impacts of city-scale food system actions. Applied to Delhi, India, the analysis demonstrates that city-scale action can rival typical food policy interventions that occur at larger scales, although no single city-scale action can rival in all three environmental impacts. In particular, improved food-waste management within the city (7% system-wide GHG reduction) matches the GHG impact of preconsumer trans-boundary food waste reduction. The systems approach is particularly useful in illustrating key trade-offs and co-benefits. For instance, multiple diet shifts that can reduce GHG emissions have trade-offs that increase water and land impacts. Vertical farming technology (VFT) with current applications for fruits and vegetables can provide modest system-wide water (4%) and land reductions (3%), although implementation within the city itself may raise questions of constraints in water-stressed cities, with such a shift in Delhi increasing community-wide direct water use by 16%. Improving the nutrition status for the bottom 50% of the population to the median diet is accompanied by proportionally smaller increases of water, GHG, and land impacts (4%, 9%, and 8%, systemwide): increases that can be offset through simultaneous city-scale actions, e.g., improved food-waste management and VFT.
Urban nature has the potential to improve air and water quality, mitigate flooding, enhance physical and mental health, and promote social and cultural well-being. However, the value of urban ecosystem services remains highly uncertain, especially across the diverse social, ecological and technological contexts represented in cities around the world. We review and synthesize research on the contextual factors that moderate the value and equitable distribution of ten of the most commonly cited urban ecosystem services. Our work helps to identify strategies to more efficiently, effectively and equitably implement nature-based solutions.
Community gardens are popular in the United States and around the world as a strategy to meet environmental and social goals in urban areas. They have been studied in a variety of contexts including food production, social activities, and urban green infrastructure. This study examines 35 community gardens in East Harlem, New York City, through environmental inventories and semi-structured interviews with gardeners (N = 54). Our study focuses on two topics: (a) key characteristics of the community gardens and perceptions among their members, and (b) associations between environmental and social elements of gardens, and place attachment of gardeners to the gardens. The 35 gardens in this study offer residents an estimated 18,000 square meters of community garden space, approximately half of which is green space. The gardeners show deep attachment to their gardens, as a large majority indicated that the gardens are highly significant to them, increase their neighborhood pride, and reduce stated likelihood of moving. Place attachment is positively correlated with knowing other gardeners and perceiving garden governance as democratic. Attachment is also correlated with a preference for garden produce over store produce and the amount of hardscape in the gardens. Although growing vegetables is meaningful to gardeners, the experience of growing food appears to be more important than the quantity grown. Policy considerations related to simultaneously supporting ecosystem services and social dynamics associated with the gardens are discussed.
Positive emotions have long-lasting benefits for human development. Understanding the connections between daily travel behavior and emotional well-being will not only help transportation practitioners identify concrete strategies to improve user experiences of transportation services, but also help health practitioners to identify innovative solutions for improving public health. Prior research on the subject had focused on limited travel behavior dimensions such as travel mode and/or travel duration. Other dimensions such as travel purpose and travel companionship have received limited attention. Using data from the 2012–2013 American Time Use Survey, this paper applied the generalized ordered logistic regression approach and examined how the mode, duration, purpose, and companionship characteristics of a trip shape six different emotions during the trip, including happy, meaningful, tired, stressful, sad, and pain. After controlling for personal demographics, health conditions, and residential locations, we find that biking is the happiest mode; public transit is the least happy and least meaningful; and utilitarian walking for transportation is associated with all four negative emotions. Trip duration has a negative association with happiness and a positive association with stress. Travel for discretionary purposes such as leisure, exercise, and community activities is generally associated with higher levels of positive emotions and lower levels of negative emotions than travel for work or household maintenance. Trips with eating and drinking purposes appear to be the happiest and trips with the purpose of spiritual and/or volunteering activities appear to be the most meaningful. Travel with family especially children or travel with friends is happier and more meaningful than travel alone. Transportation planners in the U.S. are recommended to promote biking behavior, improve transit user experiences, and implement spatial planning strategies for creating a built environment conducive to shorter trips, more discretionary trips, and more joint trips with family and friends.
Background and objectives: The encore years, or later life stages when adults enjoy health and free time, are the prime opportunity for leisure to maximize the overall quality of life. Physically active leisure is widely known to be linked to overall subjective well-being (SWB). However, experienced SWB or momentary emotion during active leisure as well as passive leisure has yet to be examined. Research design and methods: Data were derived from the 2012/2013 American Time Use Survey Well-being modules. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to identify comparable matched samples of older adults. Results: The PSM identified 211 older adults who reported a series of emotions (i.e., happy, meaningful, tired, sad, stressed, pain) during active leisure, and the comparable counterpart (n = 211) during passive leisure. Results from the Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests showed that active leisure was associated with greater levels of experienced happiness and meaningfulness, as well as with lower levels of sadness (p < .05). Discussion and implications: Physically active leisure is linked to greater levels of experienced SWB among older adults. Although more detailed roles of active and passive leisure for experienced SWB are yet to be verified, choices that older adults make in their free time may significantly impact their experienced SWB and, in turn, their overall quality of life. Aging and public health policies should enhance accessibility to active leisure to promote older adults' SWB.