The Benefits of Urban Greening

The Benefits of Urban Greening

socialActively participating in gardening is directly linked to benefits for both the individual and the community, and it therefore provides a significant contribution to the overall health of the community (Bellows et al., 2004). Individuals who garden in an urban environment experience many benefits such as socialization, satisfying labor, relaxation, and a means of creating food for their families. Having an outlet that provides for positive personal interactions in a nurturing and invigorating environment such as a community garden provides the ability to ultimately bring the community closer together by forming a bond around a common cause. The fact that the number of hours spent gardening is proportional to the amount of tangible, nutritional food that an individual could take out of the garden is extremely rewarding. It helps an individual to see pride in their work when the result provides a significant difference in their life. Having work satisfaction creates more of a sense of ease and a feeling of importance and contribution, which is very important to happiness. Another important contributor to human happiness is economic stability. According to studies, for every dollar that goes into an urban garden, six dollars of vegetables can be created (Bellows et al., 2003). In an impoverished community such as Monwabisi Park , this could make substantial difference in the money each individual family has to spend on food each month. This money can then be used for other things, such as insulation for their houses, gas for their stoves, and clothes for the family.

Urban agriculture can also improve the physical comfort of the residents and the aesthetics of their surroundings. In Monwabisi Park, there is little shade and in the summer months the community suffers from the heat. The shade created by the trees and bushes would help keep the community cool.  If rooftop greenery were implemented in the park, the appearance of the rusty rooftops could be improved. This option would also add important insulation to keep the shacks cool in the summer and warm in the winter. These gardens also have benefits in reducing and controlling storm water runoff.

Gardening in urban settings generates many benefits felt throughout the community. Using it as a part of the redevelopment plan in Monwabisi Park would create an environment where the community could come together and work toward an ultimate goal of sustainability.

Psychological BenefitsDSCN0341_edited-1

Being able to get physically involved with a gardening project provides many psychological benefits for the average human being. It has been said that people who enjoy gardening often value tidiness as well as a strong connection with neighbors (Dunnett 2000). Keeping a garden also promotes being outdoors and adding an element of fresh-air and activity to one’s day. Especially in an urban environment, gardens can make one’s surroundings more cozy and relaxing, promoting the mental welfare of inhabitants (Bellows 2003). Working in one’s garden is also a psychological benefit, caring for a garden lets one feel very close to nature and the consistent activity is a great relief for stress. Individualized gardens also allow people to express themselves creatively, which is good for morale.

Gardens that grow food products can also be personally quite satisfying (Patel 1991). It can be fulfilling to feel that one is making an effort to provide for the nutritional well being of one’s family. It can also give a feeling of accomplishment to know that one has finished an entire process of growing a produce seed to fruit (Dunnett 2000).

Social Benefits

Gardening both communally and individually has many positive social impacts on the community. Any community where gardening is encouraged and practiced automatically has an elevated consciousness of public nutrition and environmental awareness (Twiss 2003). Having individual home gardens can open an avenue of communication between neighbors, inviting discussions about what has worked and what has not worked in the gardens of various peers within the community (Patel 1991). If a garden is shared amongst an entire community, it builds a sense of pride and unity within the area because all families are working together towards a common goal.

Though some time has passed since the post-apartheid migration from the Eastern Cape to Monwabisi Park, many residents retain the remembrance of their gardens back home, where there was more space. Providing residents with the space and means to create a garden in their new home may remind them of their past and help them to adjust even more fully to their new life in Monwabisi. It could also provide people with produce needed to prepare traditional dishes from the Eastern Cape, something that expensive produce costs may have previously prevented.

Economic Benefits


economicFresh produce can be very expensive, thus the economic benefits of gardening at home can be very substantial (Patel 1991). With a large enough area and enough time from the community dedicated to garden care, a large portion of the community’s produce can self-produced, saving a considerable amount In the case of Monwabisi Park, economic benefits will be much slighter. There is limited space in the community for gardens, which can produce large harvests, however, the community is very poor and any amount of saving will be beneficial to residents. By growing food in the community, the residents will also save time and money on transportation from the city to purchase produce. The community will also gain a sense of economic independence by having a stake in the welfare of their own families.

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