New research published ahead of ‘National Allotments and Community Gardens Week 2023’ underlines the critical importance of green spaces for urban communities
Having assessed the impact of an award-winning community garden in Ballymun, researchers from TU Dublin today called for “more widespread use of community gardens across urban areas”:
Francis McGeough and Rachel Freeman, lecturers at TU Dublin, interviewed current and former users of the GLAS community garden in Ballymun, to assess the impact the garden has had on a variety of different users.
They concluded that the various people and organisations that visit the garden do so for very different reasons, but that all of them benefit from access to this little oasis of green in the North city.
“In our research we found that spending time in the GLAS community garden is hugely important to many people. Some come to learn about growing their own food and others come to the community garden for company, or just to de-stress,” said Francis McGeough, lecturer in Accounting and Finance at TU Dublin, and one of the authors of the report.
“Despite their different reasons for coming to the garden, the people we interviewed all agreed that access to the garden is vital for their community.”
The Green Living and Sustainability (GLAS) community garden has been operated by the charity Global Action Plan (GAP) since 2011, as part of the organisation’s activities in the context of the social regeneration programme for Ballymun.
The garden is supported by Dublin City Council, under the Social Regeneration Fund, and is the hub for a programme of environmental education and social inclusion in the area.
“Our evaluation aimed to determine the impact that the GLAS garden is having on the people that visit there, and to learn lessons from its model, in the hope that the model can be replicated in other urban communities.
Our findings are in line with a wealth of academic literature that shows how community gardens are not only important for the biodiversity they promote and for the food that they cultivate, but that access to such urban oases is hugely important to people for reasons to do with social inclusion, environmental awareness and mental health,” said Rachel Freeman, lecturer in Horticulture at TU Dublin.
The evaluation of the GLAS community garden in Ballymun follows on an earlier study, commissioned by Global Action Plan, summarising academic research into the benefits of green urban spaces for people’s health and mental health.
“This new research once again shows that it is good for your body and soul to be out in nature. We know from academic studies that people living in areas with parks and waterways tend to be less stressed, more physically active, less lonely and happier. And we also know that access to nature is unevenly distributed, with many urban communities feeling that green spaces are not within easy or safe access to them.”
“The study presented today by the TU Dublin research team underlines the vital importance that community gardens such as the GLAS garden have for the community in Ballymun,” said Hans Zomer, CEO of Global Action Plan.
“We would like to thank Dublin City Council for its support to this project, and we would encourage local authorities all over Ireland to ensure that urban communities everywhere have access to such important resources,” concluded Zomer.