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J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Jul;114(7):1072-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.02.030. Epub 2014 Apr 19.

Vegetable output and cost savings of community gardens in San Jose, California.


Urban dwellers across the United States increasingly access a variety of fresh vegetables through participation in neighborhood-level community gardens. Here we document vegetable output and cost savings of community gardens in the city of San Jose, CA, to better understand the capacity of community gardens to affect food affordability in an urban setting. A convenience sample of 83 community gardeners in San Jose completed a background survey during spring and summer 2012. On average, gardeners were aged 57 years and had a monthly income of $4,900; 25% had completed college. A representative subset of 10 gardeners was recruited to weigh vegetable output of their plots using portable electronic scales at three separate garden sites. Accuracy of each portable scale was verified by comparing the weight of a sample vegetable to weights obtained using a lab scale precise to 0.2 oz. Garden yields and cost savings were tabulated overall for each plot. Results indicate that community garden practices are more similar to biointensive high-production farming, producing 0.75 lb vegetables/sq ft, rather than conventional agricultural practices, producing 0.60 lb/sq ft. Gardens produced on average 2.55 lb/plant and saved $435 per plot for the season. Results indicate that cost savings are greatest if vertical high value crops such as tomatoes and peppers are grown in community gardens, although yields depend on growing conditions, gardener's skill, availability of water, and other factors. Future research is needed to document cost savings and yields for specific crops grown in community gardens.


Community gardens; Food systems; Urban agriculture

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