Planting the Seeds of Health and Resilience

Primary author: Shawna Beese
Co-author(s): Teresa Bigand; Marian Wilson
Faculty sponsor: Marian Wilson

Primary college/unit: College of Nursing
Campus: Spokane

Food bank recipients suffer a greater risk than adults who do not use food banks for insufficient access to fresh fruits and vegetables and negative health factors such as depression, obesity, and food insecurity. Creating access to gardens for this population may offer a low-cost public health approach to increase access to fresh produce and reduce risk for food insecurity. Additionally, access to gardens may offer secondary health benefits including reduced depressive symptoms and improved cardiovascular well-being.

Through secondary survey analysis, baseline garden use of food bank recipients was assessed. The interest level of recipients to learn more about gardening, explore how gardening impacts the food security of food bank recipients, and determine potential differences between garden users and non-garden users across multiple health variables (pain interference, depressive symptoms, and sleep quality) were also analyzed.

In total, 28% (n=49) of participants identified the use of home or community gardens.

More than half of the self-identified garden users (53%, n=26) reported food insecurity; yet garden users had an 18% relative risk reduction for reporting food insecurity compared to non-garden users (p>0.05).

No statistically significant differences resulted across measured health variables between garden users and non-garden users.

Gardening may be a viable public health intervention to ease food insecurity. Future studies with larger sample sizes to investigate the relative risk between garden use and food insecurity are suggested.