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J Community Health. 2018 Jun;43(3):604-610. doi: 10.1007/s10900-017-0459-8.

Perceived Benefits of Participation and Risks of Soil Contamination in St. Louis Urban Community Gardens.

Author information

1
Brown School Public Health Program, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1196, St. Louis, MO, 63130, USA. RogerWong@wustl.edu.
2
Brown School Public Health Program, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1196, St. Louis, MO, 63130, USA.
3
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Abstract

Community gardens are credited for promoting health within neighborhoods, by increasing healthy food intake and exercise frequency. These benefits, however, are potentially undermined as urban soils are often contaminated from industrial legacies. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived benefits of participation and risks of soil contamination within urban community gardens, and factors associated with soil contamination concerns. Ninety-three gardeners were interviewed across 20 community gardens in St. Louis, Missouri between June and August 2015. Surveys included questions on demographics, gardening practices, and perceptions of community gardening. Multilevel logistic models assessed how gardener demographics, gardening practices, and garden characteristics were associated with soil contamination concerns. Common perceived benefits of community gardening were community building (68.8%), healthy and fresh food (35.5%), and gardening education (18.3%). Most gardeners (62.4%) were not concerned about soil contamination, but nearly half (48.4%) stated concerns about heavy metals. Black race was significantly associated with soil contamination concerns (OR 5.47, 95% CI 1.00-30.15, p = .04). Community gardens offer numerous social and health benefits. Although most gardeners were not concerned about soil contamination, black gardeners were more likely to have concerns. Garden leaders should provide resources to gardeners to learn about soil contamination and methods to manage their risk, particularly in minority neighborhoods.

KEYWORDS:

Benefit; Community garden; Risk; Soil contamination; Urban

PMID:
29274067
DOI:
10.1007/s10900-017-0459-8

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