New Urban Gardening Research And More – Get Up to Speed!

Article by Laura Witzling

The first community gardening literature review has been published, a massive quantitative research study on urban soil in New York community gardens is underway, Mother Jones just featured a powerful spread of photographs from a Chicago urban garden, and an inspirational TED Talk about growing food with students has more than a quarter million views. Need to catch up? Follow the links below!

1. A new literature review on community gardens is available, titled “Past results and future directions in urban community gardens research.” The article includes a table of the number of published studies on community gardens, whether the studies were quantitative or qualitative, the research methods used, and more. The authors conclude that community garden research is geographically limited, but that community gardens are studied by a wide range of disciplines.

2. Nine hundred soil samples from 44 community gardens in New York City were tested for lead in a new study conducted in partnership between Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the New York State Department of Health, and Green Thumb (a division of the New York City Parks Department). Sixty-one percent of the samples contained lead higher than the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation guidance level. In the next phase of the project, produce in the gardens will be tested for lead.

Research in urban community garden soil has also taken place at the University of Illinois. A study was published in January 2011 called “Testing and Educating on Urban Soil Lead: A Case of Chicago Community Gardens.

3. Does the presence of urban gardens lower crime rates? Possibly, according to a Mother Jones article from July/August 2012 called “Photos: Plant Tomatoes. Harvest Lower Crime Rates.” The article describes urban gardening efforts in a Chicago neighborhood called Englewood and is accompanied by striking photographs.

4. In a TED Talk from February 2012 called “Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx,” Ritz describes how their school garden provides more than food for students. Ritz takes on the talk like a stand-up comedian, which may help account for the quarter million views.