Urban gardening has impressive social benefits

While urban agriculture improves access to healthy food and increases income, its social benefits are perhaps even greater: Community gardening reduces social alienation and family disintegration by helping residents connect to their city – and to each other.

When people speak about urban agriculture, what usually comes to mind is a derelict urban space transformed into a community asset. As TheCityFix explains, urban garden in New York City has increased neighbouring property values, decreased crime, improved access to healthy food, and created cleaner environments since the 1970s.

In an era of growing food insecurity, especially in developing countries where consumption of fruits and vegetables are well below World Health Organization recommendations, the tangible benefits of low-cost urban farming are obvious. But the intangible social benefits are equally impressive. By helping residents connect to their cities, urban gardens create a strong social fabric and engage residents in making their cities more liveable and sustainable.

When urban farming is used to engage marginalised residents, the benefits are even greater: A study of five informal settlements in South Africa found that while urban farms only modestly contributed to food security and increased income, they helped women by reduced social alienation and family disintegration, according to TheCityFix. For instance, the koyaproject builds gardens in community spaces such as orphanages, schools, churches and temples across the globe to increase social inclusion and educate children in self-sufficiency, nutrition and sustainability.

 

Photo credit: Steven Luscher, flickr/Creative Commons

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