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Community gardens in cities help developing social networks

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Posted March 4, 2016

Human are social animals. We need to build relations with other people in order to feel complete. In current times it may seem to be very easy, because we have technology and social networks, but in reality many people are left out of the society. Now scientists from the University of Adelaide have shown that community gardens in city and suburban areas help developing community resilience and stronger social groups.

Urban gardens are popular around the world and these, who are run by communities, offer not only fresh vegetables, but social networks as well. Image credit: Howellboy via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Urban gardens are popular around the world and these, who are run by communities, offer not only fresh vegetables, but social networks as well. Image credit: Howellboy via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Scientists studied community gardens in Adelaide and tried to figure out the reasons behind establishing these shared gardens, how they went about it, and what benefits they resulted in. There are around 50 community gardens in the area and most of them are run by people who have community building as their priority.

Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray, leader of the study, said: “Cities across the world are facing increasing challenges from the impacts of urbanisation, pollution and climate change. What we’ve seen is that new residential developments rarely plan for or provide gardens, at a time when green spaces and urban vegetation are at ongoing risk of destruction or removal. All of these issues combine, making the need to maintain urban green spaces more important than ever”.

The reasons why people decide to participate in such community gardens are simple: they want cheaper and better quality food, to build social networks and to maintain mental and physical health. Some decide to work there for therapeutical reasons – having an illness or a disability. Although a wide variety of people work in community gardens, younger children and seniors represent a large part of them.

The effect of participation is hugely positive and participants of the study said that working in such gardens is very rewarding. They note that community gardens became an important part of their social life, but environmental motivation, such as growing fresh food and vegetables, played a significant part in their decision to participate as well. Finally, scientists found that most of these gardens have very long waiting lists, which means there is a great demand for more of them.

Urban lifestyle may have its advantages. However, such community gardens offer social happiness and help building social networks. Moreover, they form green areas for recreation and all participating people reported the physical work being very rewarding, even if that reward for some is free and fresh food.

Source: adelaide.edu.au

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