The aim of the thematic review is to document the effects of community gardens on wellbeing amongst vulnerable populations. We searched for articles published between 1980 and 2017 in major databases resulting in the inclusion of 51 articles. Vulnerable populations included, amongst others, ethnic minorities and refugees, socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods or low-income or food insecure families. Our findings suggest that community garden participation may have a positive impact on physical health, such as reducing body weight and hypertension, and increasing physical activity and food knowledge. However, findings relating to community gardens and their potential to enhance food security were inconsistent. Furthermore we found that community gardens can have a positive influence both at the individual level (i.e. self-esteem, independence, personal control, etc.), particularly for refugees; the relational and social level (i.e. relationships, social connections, community and neighbourhood). Community garden participation have the potential to enhance wellbeing amongst vulnerable populations. However, two articles in our review presented potential food safety concerns related to community gardens, indicating that, particularly in urban settings, attention must be given to minimizing potential food safety concerns, e.g. by using raised garden beds. Based on this review, we recommend that further research and evaluation on non-US-based community gardens is carried out, as community gardens are practiced globally but there is little research to document the effects of community gardens on wellbeing amongst vulnerable populations outside of the USA.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Institute of Nursing and Nutrition, University College Copenhagen, Sigurdsgade 26, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark and the Department of Nutrition and Rehabilitation, University College Absalon, Slagelsevej 70-74, 4180 Soro, Denmark.
- community gardens
- vulnerable populations