Patel, I.C. 1992. Socioeconomic impact of community gardening in an urban setting. In: D. Relf (ed.). The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-Being and Social Development: A National Symposium. Timber Press, Portland, OR
Across the US, more and more land is becoming unavailable for public use. It is estimated that over 20 percent of US land is held by corporations, much of it around cities and suburbs where the need for gardening space is acute. A 1982 Gallup Poll revealed over 3 million Americans garden at community sites, an additional 7 million would garden if land were available, and 76 percent of those polled would like gardens to be a permanent part of their communities.

Community gardening is a multi-purpose activity. It cuts across social, economic, and racial barriers; brings together people of all age and backgrounds; and inspires support from neighbors, city, county, businesses, and government. This paper discusses the socio-economic effects of community gardening on the individuals, families, and businesses living and working in Newark, NJ. New touches of green are added to the city scene; and garbage-filled, vacant lots are transformed into gardens of vegetables, small fruits, and herbs. Community gardening leads to community development and greater community spirit, empowering neighbors to produce food and strengthen neighborhoods.

A setting for education and enjoyment is provided for all. School children learn the basics of horticulture and enjoy "getting their hands dirty." Economic opportunities are also created -- fresh vegetables and fruits improve nutrition in family diets and reduce food bills. Neighborhood appearances are improved and real estate value rises.