Derived from our research project literature review…
Community gardens can have a range of environmental impacts both directly and indirectly. Direct environmental impacts include greenhouse gas mitigation, carbon sequestration, increased ecosystem biodiversity and regeneration. The indirect environmental benefits are more to do with influencing urban lifestyle change and education.
Measurements for positive impact can entail number of volunteers and activities across each impact area as well as outputs from those activities. Volume of produce grown as well as numbers of food producing and non food producing trees and plants planted can provide strong indicators of community engagement in environmental restoration. These measures could extend to other ecosystem services functions e.g. beehives added as indicators of biodiversity improvements.
In terms of resource conservation we can look to measures of resources such and water and energy uses as well as land/lots used to grow food or develop biodiverse ecosystems.
A good way to collect qualitative benefits for environmental impact is through surveys. As an example, for Innermost Gardens compost operation, a Q code linked to a google survey form was attached to the side of the compost bins. Folks who were dropping their kitchen waste off just had to point their smartphone camera at the Q Code and they would then be queried by the form. In a short period of time over 100 responses were received. You can see some of the google survey findings and a link to the full google survey below…
Over 80% of those folks dropping off compost walked as part of their daily recreation and over 74% lived within 1 km of the gardens. 93% were dropping off compost because they wanted to contribute to climate change mitigation while 63% don’t have their own compost pile.
- Beilin, R., & Hunter, A. (2011). Co-constructing the sustainable city: How indicators help us “grow” more than just food in community gardens. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 523-538.
- Bendt, P., Barthel, S., & Colding, J. (2012). Civic greening and environmental learning in public-access community gardens in Berlin. Landscape and Urban Planning 109, 18-30.
- Krasny, M., & Tidball, K. (2009). Community Gardens as Contexts for Science, Stewardship, and Civic Action Learning. Cities and the Environment Vol. 2 Iss.1 Art.8.
- Meadows, D. (2000, November 6). Two Brothers Talk Carbon Sequestration. Retrieved from Grist: https://grist.org/article/how/
- Okvat, H., & Zautra, A. (2011). Community Gardening: A Parsimonious Path to Individual, Community, and Environmental Resilience. Tempe: Society for Community Research and Action 2011.
To explore these impacts areas and measures in more detail look to the full Literature Review report further on this site.