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“My little piece of the planet”: the multiplicity of well-being benefits from allotment gardening

Miriam Clare Dobson (Animal and Plant Sciences, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Christian Reynolds (City University of London, London, UK)
Philip H. Warren (Animal and Plant Sciences, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Jill L. Edmondson (Animal and Plant Sciences, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 3 November 2020

Issue publication date: 5 February 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

Participation in urban horticulture (UH) is increasing in popularity, and evidence is emerging about the wide range of social and environmental benefits “grow your own” can also provide. UH can increase mental and physical well-being, as well as improve nature connectedness, social capital and community cohesion.

Design/methodology/approach

This study focusses on allotments, which is one of the dominant forms of UH that takes place in the United Kingdom. 163 volunteers in England and Wales participated in keeping a year-long allotment diary as part of a citizen science project investigating activities on allotment gardens. This study examines the unprompted comments that 96 of these gardeners offered as observations when visiting their allotment plots.

Findings

Participants recorded high levels of social and community activities including the sharing of surplus food produce, knowledge exchange, awareness and interaction with wildlife, emotional connection to their allotment, appreciation of time spent outside and aesthetic delight in the natural world around them.

Originality/value

At a time when waiting lists for allotment plots in the United Kingdom are on the rise, and allotment land is subject to multiple pressures from other forms of development, this study demonstrates that these spaces are important sites not only for food production but also health, social capital and environmental engagement.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the EPSRC Living with Environmental Change Fellowship Grant EP/N030095/1 for Dr. Jill Edmondson’s time. The University of Sheffield Department of Animal and Plant Sciences PhD-T grant 325059 funded this research.

Citation

Dobson, M.C., Reynolds, C., Warren, P.H. and Edmondson, J.L. (2021), "“My little piece of the planet”: the multiplicity of well-being benefits from allotment gardening", British Food Journal, Vol. 123 No. 3, pp. 1012-1023. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2020-0593

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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