Allotment gardens are part of the urban green and play an important role for the quality of life in cities due their ecological and social functions.
Several benefits are associated with allotment gardens and gardens in general, however these benefits were so far only marginally studied. The study of the WSL investigates the effects of allotment gardens on the well being and physical and social health of their users.
We understand heath not (only) as physical health, which is influenced by numerous factors (habits, genetics, etc.), but in analogy with the WHO definition (1948) we also consider psychological and social aspects of health. First evidence about positive effects of gardens on health (particularly mental health) were found in a Dutch study by van den Berg, van Winsum-Westra, de Vries & van Dillen (2010). However many questions remain so far unanswered, especially about the influence of allotment gardens on the social and mental health.
A questionnaire has been administrated to tenants of an allotment garden in the city of Zurich. Goal is to get an overview of the most important aspects of health in relationship with allotment gardens.
In collaboration with Grün Stadt Zürich we developed a questionnaire and asked the thirteen allotment gardens associations of Zürich if they wanted to participate in the study. Twelve of them agreed to participate. The questionnaires were either distributed by the presidents of the associations to selected gardeners, or we could access to the mailing list of the association and select a random sample of the gardeners, or the questionnaires were exposed at the meeting points or at the general meeting of the association.
Altogether we distributed 600 questionnaires with assembling prepaid return envelopes. 252 filled questionnaires were returned, corresponding to a 40% return rate.
In general gardeners report to have positive effects on wellbeing shortly after having been in their gardens. The garden is a place where you can tank up new energy (83%), relax (86%) and forget everyday worries (67%). In addition gardeners (98%) are satisfied with what they achieved in their gardens. The respondents (99%) believe that their allotment garden has a positive effect on their health. Cultivating an allotment garden leads to a greater consume of vegetables (47%) and to more physical activity (59%) than before having the gardens.
We could reach only a certain group of gardeners (e.g. because of the language), nevertheless the results indicate that allotment gardens have an important function for the wellbeing of their users. On the one hand user report these effects when they are directly asked. On the other hand it comes clear when considering that allotment gardens play an important role for recreation, health behaviour and change from everyday life. The high response rate demonstrates the great interest about the topic.
- Grün Stadt Zürich
The project is financed by the WSL.