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Research shows common hobby can have a major effect on mental health '[It] helps break down certain social barriers'

"Neighborhoods with a community garden are often more friendly and inviting."

Community gardening can decrease stress

Photo Credit: iStock

Community gardening is where it's at if you're looking to decrease stress and increase optimism, according to a 2020 study conducted in Singapore.

Researchers tapped into the attitudes of 111 local residents, who completed surveys asking them about their gardening activities and connection to nature, along with their perceived stress, well-being, self-esteem, optimism, and openness. 

They found that those who participated in community gardening reported significantly higher levels of subjective well-being, beating both non-gardeners and at-home gardeners alike. Researchers also noted that community gardeners reported higher levels of resilience and optimism. 

The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

"These novel results indicate some potential for mental health benefits in urban environments, specifically in terms of subjective well-being and resilience," the study said. "These findings have implications for future research in clinical psychology, mental health promotion, and policy."

Other studies in different locations have come up with similar results, too. For instance, a study published in January 2023 found that community gardening can positively affect lifestyle, with participants eating more fiber and exercising more often. According to the study's authors, community gardening can reduce risk factors for cancer and chronic disease.

One of the benefits of community gardening is its social nature.

"Neighborhoods with a community garden are often more friendly and inviting," Charles Hall, an expert with Texas A&M's AgriLife program, told AgriLife Today. "And a community garden helps break down certain social barriers in that you will often see people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and economic levels collaborating on them. This sense of community is really the glue that makes a neighborhood special and allows people a chance to really get to know and understand one another."

According to Greenleaf Communities, community gardening also helps improve air and soil quality, increases the biodiversity of plants and animals, reduces the amount of transport needed for food, and positively impacts the urban microclimate.

Plus, community gardens can help "mitigate some of the problems that plague urban areas," the organization says on its website. "They can be a beneficial addition to many communities by increasing the availability of nutritious foods, strengthening community ties, reducing environmental hazards, reducing food miles, and creating a more sustainable system."

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