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Impact of a Community Gardening Project on Vegetable Intake, Food Security and Family Relationships: A Community-based Participatory Research Study

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This community-based participatory research project used popular education techniques to support and educate Hispanic farmworker families in planting and maintaining organic gardens. Measures included a pre- post gardening survey, key informant interviews and observations made at community-based gardening meetings to assess food security, safety and family relationships. Thirty-eight families enrolled in the study during the pre-garden time period, and four more families enrolled in the study during the post-garden period, for a total of 42 families enrolled in the 2009 gardening season. Of the families enrolled during the pre-gardening time period there were 163 household members. The mean age of the interviewee was 44.0, ranging from 21 to 78 years of age. The median number of occupants in a household was 4.0 (range: 2-8), Frequency of adult vegetable intake of "Several time a day" increased from 18.2 to 84.8%, (P < 0.001) and frequency of children's vegetable intake of "Several time a day" increased from 24.0 to 64.0%, (P = 0.003). Before the gardening season, the sum of the frequencies of "Sometimes" and "Frequently" worrying in the past month that food would run out before money was available to buy more was 31.2% and the sum of these frequencies dropped to 3.1% during the post garden period, (P = 0.006). The frequency of skipping meals due to lack of money was not statistically significantly different before and after the gardening season for either adults or children. Analysis of text responses and key informant interviews revealed that physical and mental health benefits were reported as well as economic and family health benefits from the gardening study, primarily because the families often worked in their gardens together. A community gardening program can reduce food insecurity, improve dietary intake and strengthen family relationships.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
Impact of a Community Gardening Project on Vegetable Intake,
Food Security and Family Relationships: A Community-based
Participatory Research Study
Patricia A. Carney Janet L. Hamada Rebecca Rdesinski
Lorena Sprager Katelyn R. Nichols Betty Y. Liu
Joel Pelayo Maria Antonia Sanchez Jacklien Shannon
Published online: 23 December 2011
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
Abstract This community-based participatory research
project used popular education techniques to support and
educate Hispanic farmworker families in planting and main-
taining organic gardens. Measures included a pre- post gar-
dening survey, key informant interviews and observations
made at community-based gardening meetings to assess food
security, safety and family relationships. Thirty-eight families
enrolled in the study during the pre-garden time period, and
four more families enrolled in the study during the post-garden
period, for a totalof 42 families enrolled in the 2009 gardening
season. Of the families enrolled during the pre-gardening time
period there were 163 household members. The mean age of
the interviewee was 44.0, ranging from 21 to 78 years of age.
The median number of occupants in a household was 4.0
(range: 2–8), Frequency of adult vegetable intake of ‘‘Several
time a day’’ increased from 18.2 to 84.8%, (P\0.001) and
frequency of children’s vegetable intake of ‘‘Several time a
day’’ increased from 24.0 to 64.0%, (P=0.003). Before the
gardening season, the sum of the frequencies of ‘‘Sometimes’
and ‘‘Frequently’’ worrying in the past month that food would
run out before money was available to buy more was 31.2%
and the sum of these frequencies dropped to 3.1% during the
post garden period, (P=0.006). The frequency of skipping
meals due to lack of money was not statistically significantly
different before and after the gardening season for either
adults or children. Analysis of text responses and key infor-
mant interviews revealed that physical and mental health
benefits were reported as well as economic and family health
benefits from the gardening study, primarily because the
families often worked in their gardens together. A community
gardening program can reduce food insecurity, improve die-
tary intake and strengthen family relationships.
Keywords Community gardening Vegetable intake
Health promotion Community-based participatory
research
Introduction
More than 10% of US households experience food insecurity
in any given year [1]. The risk of food insecurity is higher
among Hispanics, with 20.1% experiencing some type of food
insecurity annually [1]. Studies have shown there is an even
greater rate among Hispanic migrant seasonal farm workers
with rates offood insecurity ranging from 47.1 to63.8% [2,3].
Many studies have focused on rates of and health outcomes
associated with food insecurity among Hispanic migrant
seasonal farmworkers [4].Most studies of community gardens
have been conducted in urban settings [5,6], and few studies
done to-date have examined how a community gardening
program affects food security in rural populations.
P. A. Carney (&)R. Rdesinski K. R. Nichols
Department of Family Medicine, Oregon Health & Science
University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd. (MC: FM),
Portland, OR 97239, USA
e-mail: carneyp@ohsu.edu
J. L. Hamada L. Sprager J. Pelayo M. A. Sanchez
Nuestra Comunidad Sana, The Next Door, Inc, Hood River,
OR, USA
B. Y. Liu
School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University,
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd. (MC: FM), Portland,
OR 97239, USA
J. Shannon
Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine,
Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson
Park Rd., Portland, OR 97239, USA
123
J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881
DOI 10.1007/s10900-011-9522-z
The benefits of community-based gardening projects likely
extend beyond food security, as gardens provide fresh vege-
tables, and the process of gardening involves physical exer-
cise. Family and social relationships can also be strengthened
through community gardening, since community members
provide advice and support to help overcome challenges and
all receive the benefits the gardening project offers. Immi-
gration issues can lead to the loss of these essential social
networks [7], and may leave migrant families feeling isolated
[8]. This is especially true for Hispanic cultures where, tradi-
tionally, a strong sense of family and community known as
‘familismo’’ has shaped their perception of their world [8].
Hispanic families also carry the tradition of a family garden
with them from Mexico [9]. Approaches to studying family
gardening are complicated. This is due in part to the distance
from the academic centers and communities can be significant.
It is also due to prior suboptimal experiences that community
members have encountered with university-based investiga-
tors which have resulted in mistrust [10,11].
Fortunately, community-based participatory research
(CBPR) approaches offer important alternatives when col-
laborating on research with underserved/vulnerable popu-
lations, such as Hispanic migrant seasonal farmworkers, for
several reasons. First, the CBPR approach allows for the time
necessary to develop a successful relationship between
academic partners and community members that is essential
when a lack of trust initially exists. This approach is unlike
traditional research study approaches [12]. Secondly, CBPR
methods can alleviate perceptions of potential racial dis-
crimination especially regarding immigration status, which
can be a barrier to successful collaboration [13]. Thirdly,
CBPR approaches combine the expertise offered in study
design and evaluation from academic partners with impor-
tant insights provided by community members, creating
unique synergies that when successful, can result in impor-
tant research collaborations [12]. Finally, community
members have special knowledge about the individuals that
live in their communities that is vital to choosing method-
ologies that will foster trust. For example, using CBPR may
benefit recruitment into studies [13].
We used a community-based participatory research
approach to study the impact of a community gardening
program on vegetable intake, food security and family
relationships of migrant seasonal farmworker families in a
rural Oregon community.
Methods
The Community/Academic Partnership
Nuestra Comunidad Sana uses the Community Health
Worker model to offer culturally relevant health promotion
services to the Columbia River Gorge Latino community. It
is one of several programs overseen by The Next Door Inc,
a community-based organization. The community served
by this program is diverse and historically rooted in agri-
culture, particularly apple, pear and cherry orchards, where
the Latino population is a significant contributor to main-
taining and harvesting these orchards. This community is
96% white with 27.2% of Hispanic ethnicity, and 18.1%
are uninsured [14].
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is Ore-
gon’s only research university and houses the Oregon
Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI),
funded in 2006 by the National Institutes’ of Health
National Center for Research Resources to create an aca-
demic home for clinical/translational investigation. One of
the Institute’s key programs is Community Research and
Engagement, which seeks to work collaboratively with
community organizations and researchers to study how best
to improve the health of the public. OCTRI provided
assistance to both the community and academic partners to
attain this research funding.
Funding attained for this project supported local families
who want to grow a home garden by providing resources,
materials, volunteer support, and a social network that
included meetings, an end of growing season fiesta and
ongoing contact with Promotores. Families enrolled in the
project share and learn about nutrition and new opportu-
nities for physical exercise, which results in community
building. The specific objectives of the Harvest Fiesta
Project included: (1) to pilot a peer network supporting the
establishment of home gardens (growing healthful pro-
duce) among Hispanic families; (2) to analyze the vege-
table intake among participants before and after their
garden is implemented; and (3) to build community self-
sufficiency through neighborhood and household garden-
ing, in ways that honor and utilize traditional skills and
Hispanic culture.
Implementation
The study had funding to sustain 40 farm families, which
were enrolled on a first come first served basis. Community
meetings were held nearly every month starting in March
of each growing season to provide project materials, such
as seeds, and to share about gardening, such as how to
choose plants, compost, organic approaches for pest con-
trol, preparing the land, maintaining the garden and har-
vesting the vegetables. Popular education techniques [15]
were used for these sessions. Attendance at these sessions
was high during the first year of the two-year project with
between 87 and 131 family members attending (*75% of
all participants). The education sessions were also designed
to address the concerns of farmworkers, who are exposed
J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881 875
123
to pesticides while working in the fields but are not using
pesticides in their own gardens because of health concerns.
A final community meeting (Harvest Fiesta) was held in
October, where families prepared dishes with food grown
in their gardens and the group celebrated what it had
learned and grown.
The community group organized all study meetings and
interactions with participating families. The OHSU group
developed educational materials about the harms of pesti-
cides and how best to avoid them while still controlling
insects. The community group translated and adapted those
materials for appropriate grade level, plain language and
health literacy. Both the OHSU and community groups
conducted the key informant interviews, four of which
were conducted in the fall of 2009 and six of which were
done in the fall of 2010 using two open-ended questions
(#1 What has the gardening project meant for you and your
family? and #2 How has the education program on pesti-
cides, insects and ground cover been helpful to the pro-
gram?). The OHSU team also developed databases for
entry of study data and conducted data analyses, while the
community group worked on translating text responses
from Spanish into English and entering data into the dat-
abases designed for this purpose.
Study Instruments, Data Collection, Data Analysis
Pre- and post gardening questionnaires were developed and
pilot tested with the project’s health promoters. Questions
focused on obtaining demographic and family size infor-
mation as well as frequency of eating vegetables, and food
security. Additional open-ended questions were included
on the survey to identify areas where the community-gar-
dening project has had an impact on the families that the
structured survey questions may have missed. The project’s
health promoters administered the questionnaire verbally to
one family member (typically male or female head of
household) who was identified by the study health pro-
moters as best representing the family’s experiences. The
surveys were administered in either face-to-face sessions in
participants’ homes or over the telephone.
Community meetings done at the end of the growing
season assessed the effects these gardens had on the fam-
ilies involved, resulting in participants’ recommendations
for the future. Key informant interviews were conducted
with participating families at the end of the gardening
season to further evaluate the project. The community
group staff interpreted for OHSU partners during each
interview. Field notes were recorded manually at these
interviews and analyzed for emerging themes. OHSU
Institutional Review Board reviewed all study activities
(IRB #5421) and the study received an exemption, as all
study activities were anonymous.
Analyses of pre-post gardening questionnaires involved
the use of descriptive statistics and Wilcoxon Signed-
Ranks Test. Two or more independent coders reviewed the
text responses from pre-post gardening questionnaires and
used classical content analysis [16] and constant compar-
ative techniques to identify, define and characterize
emerging themes. Occurrences of frequent themes were
counted, and exemplars were selected that best reflected
the themes. Field notes from the 10 key informant inter-
views were also reviewed and coded similarly.
Results
Thirty-eight families enrolled in the study in the spring and
completed the pre-gardening survey. Four more families
enrolled in the summer but did not complete the pre-gar-
dening survey, for a total of 42 families enrolled in the
2009 gardening season (Table 1), though two families
dropped out prior to completion o the post-questionnaire.
Of the families enrolled during the pre-gardening time
period there were 163 household members. The mean age
of the interviewee was 44.0, ranging from 21 to 78 years of
age. Participants had lived in the US an average of
20 years, ranging from 4 to 44 years. The median number
of occupants in a household was 4.0 (range: 2–8), and the
average number of children, among homes with children
under 18, was 2.3 (range: 1–4). Eighty-one and a half
percent of homes with children under 18 were two parent
homes. The percent of the homes with only adults, (i.e.
18 years or older), was 33.3%. Over a third of the families
(39.5%) live in communities that are less than two miles
from The Next Door Inc, and about three quarters of the
families (76.3%) live in communities that are less than six
miles away. The furthest community is 18 miles away from
The Next Door Inc. The mean garden space size reported
was 132 ft
2
(range: 20–900), which is roughly a 11ft by
12ft space.
Participants were asked questions about their family’s
vegetable intake, worry about food running out, and
skipping meals before and after the gardening season
(Table 2). Frequency of adult vegetable intake of ‘‘Several
time a day’’increased from 18.2 to 84.8%, (P\0.001)
and frequency of children’s vegetable intake of ‘‘Several
time a day’’ increased from 24.0 to 64.0%, (P=0.003).
Before the gardening season, the sum of the frequencies of
‘Sometimes’’ and ‘‘Frequently’’ worrying in the past
month that food would run out before money was available
to buy more was 31.2% and the sum of these frequencies
dropped to 3.1% during the post garden period, (P=
0.006). The frequency of skipping meals due to lack of
money was not statistically significantly different before
and after the gardening season for either adults or children.
876 J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881
123
During the post gardening season participants were
asked questions regarding use of fertilizers, compost,
organic approaches for pest control, and cover crops
(Table 3). A small percentage of the participants, 12.8%,
used fertilizer in their garden, whereas 84.6% used com-
post. Additionally, 97.4% reported planning to use compost
in the coming years. Only 5.1% reported using pesticides
or herbicides in their garden. One hundred percent of
participants reported planning to use a cover crop in the
garden over the winter and 100% planned to plant another
garden next year.
When asked if the garden helped the health of the
family, 94.9% of participants reported that it did. A high
percentage of participants (92.3%) also encouraged other
families to start a garden too. Over two-thirds of the par-
ticipants (69.2%) reported that children under the age of 18
helped in the garden. This may have been their children,
relatives or neighbors. All respondents reported receiving
the support that they needed to prepare, plan, tend, and
harvest the garden, though there were requests for support
in the future. Specifically, many families requested support
with getting seeds (n =24), composting (n =23), pest
control (n =19), and advice on garden care (e.g. mulching
and watering) (n =14). Almost all the families (92.1%)
planned to attend the Harvest Fiesta Celebration, though of
the families that responded to the question about atten-
dance only 33.3% reported attending.
The open-ended questions, ‘‘How do you think having a
garden will help your family?’’ and ‘‘Do you think the garden
helped the health of yourfamily? If yes,how?’’, were asked in
the pre and post gardening surveys, respectively. Thirty-six
participants responded to the pre-gardening open-ended
question, with two other participants leaving the question
blank. On the post gardening survey, 38 participants answered
the open-ended question, with two other participants leaving
the open-ended question blank, and two other participants had
dropped out of the study. The responses to these two open
ended questions generated several emergent themes
(Table 4). Comments about physical health benefits and
economic benefits were the most frequently mentioned con-
cepts in the pre-gardening open-ended question. Comments
about mental health and well-being, and family health were
mentioned much less often. In the post gardening open-ended
question, physical health benefits was still the most frequently
mentioned concept, however, comments about economic
benefits were mentioned much less often.
One participant responded to the pre gardening open-
ended question by expressing a desire to learn how to
cultivate more vegetables, falling under the concept of
‘learning’’ (data not shown). Additionally, when partici-
pants were asked why or why not the gardening meetings
were helpful, almost half (10/21) of participants mentioned
the benefits of learning from others through sharing
knowledge and experiences.
Table 1 Demographic
characteristics of participants/
gardens
*n=38 unless otherwise
noted
** Some families with children
had missing ages (n =3), and
were not included. Also, some
families did not have children
(n =5), and some families had
older children ([18 years
old—n =6)
a
Interviewee is designated
family member
Characteristics Responses
Interviewee characteristics
Mean age of interviewee
a
(n =36) (range) 44.0 (21–78)
Mean number of years living in US (range) 20 (4–44)
Family, household & resident characteristics
Total number of families representing 163 individuals 38
Household characteristics
Median number (range) 4.0 (2–8)
Average # children among homes with children (\18 years old) (n =24**) 2.3 (1–4)
% of single parent homes with children under age 18 (n =27) 18.5
% of two parent homes with children under age 18 (n =27) 81.5
% of households with adults only (C18 years old) (includes single person homes) 33.3
Distance residence is from community organization (n =8 communities)
Community A (same location as community organization)—0 miles, % 21.1%
Community B—1.8 miles 18.4%
Community C—3.8 miles 2.6%
Community D—5.8 miles 34.2%
Community E—11.0 miles 2.6%
Community F—13.6 miles 10.5%
Community G—16.6 miles 2.6%
Community H—18.0 miles 7.9%
Garden characteristic
Mean garden space (ft
2
)(n=24) (range) 132 (20–900)
J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881 877
123
Table 5provides summary results from the 10 post-
gardening key informant interviews. Two core questions
were asked and from these six themes emerged. The pri-
mary area of importance relevant to what the gardening
program has meant for these underserved families is food
security and safety. A secondary theme is carrying on the
traditions from their home country. The second core
question was relevant to the sharing and learning educa-
tional program delivered about pesticides and other aspects
of organic gardening. Both anticipated and unexpected
learning occurred related to both the gardening program
and building trust with investigators from the academic
partnership.
Discussion
This study is important because it succeeded in enrolling
and following 38 underserved families who actively par-
ticipated in an organic community gardening project over
Table 2 Comparisons of food intake and food security before and
after gardening project
Food intake/security variables Pre-
garden
Post
garden
a
Pvalue
Frequency that adults in household eat
vegetables (n =33)
\0.001
Several times a day, % 18.2 84.8
Once a day, % 45.5 12.1
A few times a week, % 33.3 3.0
Almost never, % 3.0 0
Frequency that children \18 years old
in household eat vegetables (n =25)
0.003
Several times a day, % 24.0 64.0
Once a day, % 44.0 32.0
A few times a week, % 32.0 4.0
Almost never 0 0
Frequency in past month that family
worried food would run out before
money was available to Buy more
(n =32)
0.006
Never, % 68.8 96.9
Sometimes (a few times a year), % 15.6 3.1
Frequently (at least once a month), % 15.6 0
All the time 0 0
Frequency in past month that adults
skipped meals due to lack of money to
buy food (n =33)
0.32
Never, % 93.9 97.0
Sometimes (a few times a year), % 3.0 3.0
Frequently (at least once a month), % 3.0 0
All the time 0 0
Frequency in past month that children
\18 Years old skipped meals due to
lack of money to buy food (n =27)
0.32
Never, % 100 96.3
Sometimes (a few times a year), % 0 3.7
Frequently (at least once a month) 0 0
All the time 0 0
a
Wording in the post gardening questionnaire referred to community
gardening—e.g., during the summer when your gardening was pro-
ducing did you skip meals because you ran out of money?
Table 3 Post-gardening report of activities, benefits and needed
support associated with the project
Perceived activities and benefits Responses
Activities
Used store bought fertilizers in
your garden (n =39), %
12.8
Used compost in your garden
(n =39), %
84.6
Plan to use compost in garden
in coming years (n =39), %
97.4
Used pesticides or herbicides
in garden (n =39), %
5.1
Plan to use a cover crop in the garden
over the winter (n =37), %
100
Plan to plant another garden
next year (n =38), %
100
Benefits
Perceived the garden helped
the health of the family (n =39), %
94.9
Families where children under
age 18 helped in the garden (n =39)
a
,%
69.2
Encouraged other families to start
a garden (n =39), %
92.3
Planned to attend the Harvest Fiesta
Celebration of the Project (n =38), %
92.1
Were able to attend the Harvest Fiesta
Celebration (n =30), %
33.3
Received the support needed to prepare,
plan, tend, and harvest garden
(n =35), %
100
Support requests for future n
Getting seeds 24
Composting 23
Pest control 19
Advice on garden care (e.g., mulching,
watering)
14
Advice on what to plant and when to
plant it
8
Preparing the land 5
Tools to work in the garden 2
Canning or freezing vegetables 2
Other 8
a
Among all families (not just those with children under age 18)
878 J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881
123
two growing seasons. Our findings indicate that the com-
munity gardening project held many health benefits,
including a nearly four-fold increase in vegetable intake
among adults and a three-fold increase among children. In
addition, many families expressed satisfaction with
knowing the vegetables they grew in their gardens were
pesticide free, the process of having a garden carried on
traditions they learned from family in Mexico and the
economic benefits of not having to spend money on food.
The median annual income for a family of four in the
community studied was $9,000, far below the 2011 US
poverty level for a family of four, which is $22,350 [17].
Though we expected vegetable intake to increase as a
result of the gardening project, we were surprised to learn the
importance of the project on family relationships. Several
individuals reported that the gardening efforts contributed to
a sense of togetherness within the family or as a place to
spend quality family time building relationships. Over 69%
of children worked in the garden along with their parents.
Clearly family traditions are strong among this population,
even though many participants had lived in the US for a
decade or more. We were similarly surprised to learn about
the mental health benefits of the gardening project. Families
enrolled in this study were agricultural workers who were
either working in fields or packing houses for long hours, but
found the community gardening activities were a good way
to pass time, and bring relaxation, enjoyment, or reduce
stress.
We found that in our sample of families, food security
was a concern for about 31% of respondents to the survey
before the gardening project, which dropped to 3% after
the gardening project. However, very few adults or chil-
dren reported having to skip meals either before or after
the gardening project. Family pride is very important to
these families and being able to provide for one’s family is
a highly held value among this population. So these
Table 4 Emergent themes from responses to pre-survey and post-survey questions: pre: how do you think having a garden will help your
family? post: do you think the garden helped the health of your family? If yes, how?
Emergent
theme
Definition Pre: # of
mentions
Sample quotes
a
Post:
#of
mentions
Sample quotes
a
Physical
health
benefits
Statements reflecting
improvements to overall
physical health including
mention of nutritional benefits
gained from eating fresh,
chemical free vegetables, and
mention of physical activity or
exercise
24 ‘We will eat fresh vegetables, be
healthier, the vegetables wont
have chemicals and we will save
a lot of money.’’; ‘‘To do
exercise, share with the family,
learn how to cultivate more
vegetables.’
29 ‘Eating fresh, natural, and
healthy’’; ‘‘We did more
exercise and we ate healthier.’’;
‘we exercised more, we ate
healthier, it was a way to pass
time and keep busy.’
Economic
benefits
Statements mentioning how the
availability of fresh vegetables
has helped them to save money
and/or time. Also comments
regarding food security
addressing the ability to keep
fresh vegetables year round
21 ‘Save money. Prevent buying
expensive vegetables’’; ‘‘It will
help save money. I wont have to
go to the store.’
11 ‘When we had vegetables we
would just go and cut them out
side and eat them.’’; ‘‘We saved
money we ate good and I also
could save some vegetables for
the winter. I freezed some and
also dried some.’
Mental
health&
well-
being
Statements mentioning a feeling
of calm or relief from the
assurance that the vegetables are
chemical free, and any
comments regarding gardening
efforts as a pass time bringing
relaxation, enjoyment, or stress
reduction
8 ‘To eat healthy. To entertain self,
could be like therapy but also an
obligation.’’; ‘‘To relax, save
money, fresh vegetables.’’; ‘‘To
save money, destress myself,
pass time’
11 ‘I feel calmer knowing I am
eating more naturally and the
veggies don’t have chemicals.’
Family
health
Statements involving how
gardening efforts contribute to a
sense of togetherness felt within
the family, allude to family
traditions, or mention of the
garden as a place to spend
quality family time building
relationships
3 ‘So we can eat more vegetables
and my son get involved.’’;
‘The family will cultivate their
own vegetables and the children
will eat more vegetables
because they cultivated them.’
5 ‘The kids enjoy watching the
plants grow they try to help
them grow bye trying to water
them.’’; ‘‘Yes it helped us a lot.
We saved money and we also
are showing our kids the love of
the land who feeds us.’
Total number of participants providing responses for the Pre-survey and Post-survey questions vary independently (data do not represent
responses from the same individual). Although some overlap occurs in respondents to pre- and post-test questions, this occurrence is infrequent
a
The number of mentions per emergent theme is not mutually exclusive; statements made by participants may be applicable to multiple themes
J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881 879
123
responses may have been affected by social or cultural
bias, which indicated an underestimation of the degree of
concerns these families have about food security and
whether meals are actually skipped. Our findings differ
from those of Kirkpatrick et al. [5], which found when
surveying 484 urban low-income families that over two-
thirds were food insecure and 25% were severely food
insecure in the past year. In addition, even though com-
munity gardening was an option to address food insecurity,
very few families in this study used this option. The
majority used children’s food programs or food banks. It
may be that the relationship the community partner
Table 5 Thematic summary from post gardening key informant interviews—2009/2010 Harvest Fiesta
Study question Themes Exemplars
1. What has the gardening program
meant for your and your family?
Food security (for family and neighbors) ‘Garden for me is very important because for a
while you have everything you need. Every family
should have one to learn how to produce for
themselves. It is also important as a family
tradition because we share the food with
neighbors, daughters, sons-in-law.’
Probe: how long have you been
in the program?
‘I do need to buy things at the store and we do use
our own garden harvest for winter vegetables—we
do this because the food is so expensive in the
winter. We buy some vegetables in the summer
because it is cheaper and the food is fresh and we
save our garden’s food for winter.’’
Food safety (no chemicals) ‘We enjoy vegetables with no chemicals in them’’
‘The most important things are that there are no
chemicals in the vegetables’
Carrying on traditions of 1st family in Mexico
both for raising culturally important foods
(e.g. salsa) and for working in the soil
‘My wife is one of 12 siblings and gardening is a
family tradition. This came from living in Mexico,
which was the only food they had.’
‘Working the soil is important—my husband loves
the earth and cultivating the earth is so important. I
love to learn and it is important for the children to
see planting and helping with it. I worked with my
father in the garden in Mexico’
‘We have so much pride about the vegetables. We
love to work with the earth—it is a family
tradition’
2. How has the education program on
pesticides, insects and ground cover
been helpful to the program?
Unexpected learning ‘It has been important to know about bad dirt and
not to bring dirt from the pesticide garden. We are
now bringing it from the cow pasture. ‘‘We now
use natural fertilizer that my husband makes—we
have been composting.’
Anticipated learning ‘We also want to learn more about composting to
make the soil better. We have so much hope for
our children, but fears too (about documentation).’’
‘The educational materials that were really helpful
because of the fear of pesticides—we have had to
deal with slugs and snails though we have been
about to keep these away by giving them beer—
they eat the beer and die.’
Probe: what was it like having
researchers from Portland be
a part of the program?
Building trust & interdependence ‘Having you visit us it good—communication is
better this way because you can see how we live
and we can hear your voice.’’
‘Having people from Portland coming makes us feel
valued and we want them to know how much work
the gardening is—it is good that they (people from
Portland) care about us and want to learn from
us—we can support each other.’
880 J Community Health (2012) 37:874–881
123
developed with the underserved farm workers helped to
foster participation in the program.
We found that both the community partner and the
enrolled families valued the relationship with investigators
at OHSU. The community partner was happy to get
assistance with survey design and data analysis. The
community partner credits the success of this partnership to
the community partner’s built trust from the community
and the investigators’ respect and sensitivity to working
with the community partner and community members. As a
partnership, we also learned that CBPR can be effective
and a positive experience when both the community and
research partners treat each other with mutual respect,
acknowledge the strengths each brings to the table, col-
laborate on equal playing field and with community
members in an ethical way.
Investigators were attentive to interacting appropriately
and respectfully with community members. They followed
the guidance of the community partner to do so. Commu-
nity members who attended the group meetings reported
that having people come from OHSU made them feel they
were important and listened to. Though we succeeded in
enrolling nearly 40 families, attendance at the community
meetings was lower than expected. This study was con-
ducted shortly after a high level of documentation was
required to obtain a drivers license in Oregon and more
immigrants were being detained, then deported. This lim-
ited the number of people willing to drive to a central
location for these meetings due to immigration concerns.
When attendance was low, the health promoters delivered
the educational messages to families at their homes.
The strengths of our study include that we were able to
enroll and track 38 families’ participation in a community
organic gardening study, were able to orally administer
pre- and post test surveys to a majority of these families to
determine the impact of the gardening project on vegetable
intake, food security and family relationships. The weak-
nesses include that the study design was observational and
pre-post rather than a randomized design, which would
have provided more rigorous evaluation. It was not possi-
ble to include a randomized design in this study because
the relationship between the community and academic
partners was not yet well established and these families
were very underserved; thus, we felt it unethical to assign
families to receive gardening supplies and assistance ver-
sus not, when they are struggling economically.
The community partner is committed to help families
build skills for loving relationships and healthy lifestyles.
The academic partner is committed to conducting research
that will improve the health of US populations, especially
those in underserved settings. By coming together, these
partners can achieve both goals. We are currently planning
the next project and are hopeful that the partnership can
both continue and grow. In conclusion, we learned in this
study that a community gardening program can reduce
food insecurity, improve vegetable intake and strengthen
family relationships.
Acknowledgments This study was funded by the National Institute
of Child Health and Human Development (R03-HD059488).
References
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... The sample size in included studies ranged from 47 to 1790 participants, who were 6 months to 65 years of age. Three studies included children or households in which children lived (43,51,54). Of these, two studies included households with children under 2 years of age (51,54). ...
... Of these, two studies included households with children under 2 years of age (51,54). Seven studies included adults (41,43,46,(49)(50)(51)(52), three included farmers (46,50,52), two included women 15-49 years (51), and mothers (41). Two studies included rural households and customers without specifying their ages (44,48). ...
... Strategies used in the six studies reporting agricultural interventions included agricultural education of farmers (43,(49)(50)(51)(52), preparing and improving soil and seeds (43,52), promoting and supporting gardening/harvesting by honoring and utilizing traditional skills and local culture (51), community gardening (43), improving household income (48), and using agroecological and sustainable farming practices (49,50,52). Agroecological projects harnessed local resources and used a farmer-to-farmer knowledgesharing approach to train smallholder farmers on applying agroecological practices to improve agricultural productivity and household nutrition. ...
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Introduction This systematic review aimed to evaluate community-based participatory (CBP) interventions to improve food security and/or its dimensions to highlight the scope and characteristics of interventions and extract the characteristics of effective interventions. Methods The electronic databases, including PubMed/MEDLINE, SCOPUS, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, were searched from 1980 to 30 August 2022 for relevant studies. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs), cluster randomized controlled trials (cRCTs), controlled before and after studies (CBAs), non-randomized controlled trials (nRCT), and interrupted time series (ITS) studies to identify the community-based participatory interventions. The indicators of food and nutrition security into four dimensions, as well as food insecurity measured as score and/or prevalence of food insecurity based on validated perception-based measures were considered outcome. Two reviewers independently evaluated the studies for eligibility, extracted data, and evaluated the risk of bias in the included studies using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP). The quality of included reports was categorized as strong (when there were no weak ratings), moderate (when one factor was rated as weak), or weak (when two or more factors were rated as weak). A descriptive analysis of the findings was performed. Results A total of twelve studies were included. The quality of all eligible studies ( n = 12) was rated as moderate/weak. Most CBP interventions were guided by formative research ( n = 9, 75%). Two main groups for utilized strategies were identified: agricultural and nutrition strategies. Agricultural strategies included agricultural education, preparing and improving soil and seeds, promoting and supporting gardening/harvesting utilizing traditional skills based on the local culture, and agroecological practices. Nutrition strategies included store and shopping programs, farmers’ markets, fresh fruit and vegetable programs, nutrition education programs for mothers, and food vouchers. The main outcomes improved in the CBP interventions were food security ( n = 2) and its dimensions, including availability ( n = 3), access ( n = 5), and utilization ( n = 2). All agroecological practices achieved statistically significant outcomes in the intended food security target(s). However, nutritional interventions were not effective for some access components such as mean adequacy ratio, fruit and vegetable intake, and nutrition environment of the stores. No studies evaluated stability outcome components of food security. Discussion CBP interventions guided by formative research data and agroecological practices were promising strategies to improve food security and its dimensions. Insufficient data on the stability components of food security and weak design studies were the considerable gaps in the research evidence reviewed. More research employing randomized experimental designs with adequate sample size and high retention rates is required. Systematic review registration [ https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/ ], identifier [CRD42020189477].
... 18,[27][28][29][30][31][32] Multiple studies used home or community gardens as a platform to increase access to fresh produce and educate participants on healthier food production and consumption choices. [33][34][35][36][37] Each food system process of production, [33][34][35]37 processing, 35,37 distribution, 33,36,37 marketing, 18,27,30,31 and disposal 34,35,38 was targeted in less than 5 studies per process. ...
... 18,[27][28][29][30][31][32] Multiple studies used home or community gardens as a platform to increase access to fresh produce and educate participants on healthier food production and consumption choices. [33][34][35][36][37] Each food system process of production, [33][34][35]37 processing, 35,37 distribution, 33,36,37 marketing, 18,27,30,31 and disposal 34,35,38 was targeted in less than 5 studies per process. ...
... 18,[27][28][29][30][31][32] Multiple studies used home or community gardens as a platform to increase access to fresh produce and educate participants on healthier food production and consumption choices. [33][34][35][36][37] Each food system process of production, [33][34][35]37 processing, 35,37 distribution, 33,36,37 marketing, 18,27,30,31 and disposal 34,35,38 was targeted in less than 5 studies per process. ...
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... Many practitioners believe that combining food donations with capacity-building programs, as well as with a whole range of other community services (i.e., housing; education programs for adults; job programs, etc.) that increase the probability of transitioning out of poverty, represent a long-term solution to HFI [26]. In fact, studies have documented that capacity-building programs are associated with increases in the nutritional value of acquired food [25,27], social integration, and solidarity [27][28][29], along with increases in the local availability of low-cost quality food [30,31]. ...
... Many practitioners believe that combining food donations with capacity-building programs, as well as with a whole range of other community services (i.e., housing; education programs for adults; job programs, etc.) that increase the probability of transitioning out of poverty, represent a long-term solution to HFI [26]. In fact, studies have documented that capacity-building programs are associated with increases in the nutritional value of acquired food [25,27], social integration, and solidarity [27][28][29], along with increases in the local availability of low-cost quality food [30,31]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
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... Una garantía de alimentos para la población. FAO Los huertos urbanos o caseros, que por lo general son desarrollados en espacios privados, y para uso particular principalmente, se diferencian de los huertos comunitarios en que tienen un carácter colectivo y una función social (Ferris et al., 2001;Rogge & Theesfled, 2018 (Carney et al., 2012), espacios para aprendizajes sociales y ambientales (Fernández 2003;Krasny &Tidball, 2015), la promoción de la salud pública y comunitaria (Tharrey et al., 2019), la cohesión, el desarrollo y bienestar comunitario (Armstrong, 2000;Cumbers et al., 2018;Teig et al., 2009), la provisión de servicios ecosistémicos (Cabral et al., 2017;Langemeyer et al., 2016), y muy en especial, la creación de espacios de gobernanza democrática (Hou, 2017;Rogge & Theesfled, 2018). En fin, como expresan Ferris y colegas (2001), las estructuras y funciones de los huertos comunitarios dependerán del panorama socioeconómico de los espacios urbanos en que estos se encuentren situados, y en las necesidades que se presenten. ...
Thesis
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Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has been promoted as an important collaborative methodology for addressing local health concerns. However, academic physicians and researchers usually are not trained to work with communities as partners. Key characteristics of effective community-academic partnerships are examined based on experiences with 2 CBPR projects in Wisconsin. These 2 projects increasingly have involved the respective communities and researchers in a collaboration. The steps they have taken illustrate the qualities of successful CBPR partnerships: ongoing development of joint community and researcher analysis, communication, and mobilization to search for relevant solutions to important community health problems. To sustain this kind of partnership, it is critical for researchers using the CBPR approach to understand how their academic-scientific perspective differs as well as converges with the community members' practical-experiential perspective. Health care researchers can effectively make use of partnerships with communities by following defined CBPR steps for developing mutually agreed upon research agendas, timelines, and goals. This, in turn, builds the capacity of communities to initiate and engage in future collaborative research projects concerning health issues.
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Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year 2002, meaning that they had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households were food insecure at least some time during that year. The prevalence of food insecurity rose from 10.7 percent in 2001 to 11.1 percent in 2002, and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2002 food security survey, provides the most recent statistics on the food security of U.S. households, as well as on how much they spent for food and the extent to which food-insecure households participated in Federal and community food assistance programs. Survey responses indicate that the typical food-secure household in the U.S. spent 35 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Just over one-half of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food assistance programs during the month prior to the survey. About 19 percent of food-insecure households—3.0 percent of all U.S. households—obtained emergency food from a food pantry at some time during the year.
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