Developing community gardening spaces on transport infrastructure, Energy Gardens is supporting healthier, safer communities.
Physical Activity and Health
Two main contributing factors to obesity and poor health are diet and a lack of physical activity. This problem is increasing due to many people relying on processed food and spending long periods of time without any physical activity. Energy Garden helps to address these health issues through active gardening sessions that connect people with the benefits of the whole foods they consume.
According to a report by The King’s Fund, “increasing exposure to, and use of, green spaces has been linked to long-term reductions in overall reported health problems.”3
Working with professional gardeners and local groups, gardening sessions are held at the completed Energy Garden stations, providing training for local residents on how to grow and maintain crops.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society:
• 30 minutes of digging burns 150 calories
• Raking a lawn burns 120
• Pushing a lawn mower burns 165.
The NHS is increasingly referring patients to non-clinical services such as community gardening schemes.3
TFL. (2016) Healthy Streets for London.Available at: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/healthy-streets-for-london.pdf
Gardening can also lead to a healthier diet. School Gardening for children can significantly increase their fruit and vegetable intake.3 London schools and youth groups such as gardening clubs take part in the Energy Garden community gardening sessions, and has provided training and education for 1,500 children in 37 schools. Energy Garden’s paid AQA accredited youth internship programme gave 14-24 year olds hands-on training in horticulture, renewable energy technology, social enterprise, and biodiversity.
Data from the European Quality of Life Survey indicates that people who grow their own food are happier than people who don't. Brondesbury Park Energy Garden has produced crops of broccoli, carrots, aubergines, beans, strawberries, and even hops, which were made into quiches, samosas, and brewed into beer. Volunteers learn how to plant, care for, and harvest these crops, which they can take home and use in their cooking. Through surveys, we found that volunteers found a new sense of pride in their neighborhood, an increased awareness of the benefit of fresh vegetables, and a new sense of motivation.
Gardens and Mental Health
Green spaces are crucial to urban living. The study The current status of urban-rural differences in psychiatric disorders found that people in urban areas with green spaces had “improved mental well-being, a reduction in stress, lower morbidity and cardiovascular disease risk, greater longevity of the elderly, improved cognitive function and healthier cortisol profiles.”4 A study by Barton and Pretty in Enrivonmental Science & Technology shows that gardening leads to significant reductions in depression and anxiety, increased self-esteem and mood, starting at durations of only 5 minutes and upwards.
Gardens & Commuter Safety
The study Environment and Crime in the Inner City (2016) found that people living in greener surroundings reported “lower levels of fear, fewer incivilities, and less aggressive and violent behavior.”5 Energy Garden may increase safety at stations. People involved with Energy Garden have commented over the last year that there is a sense of community and passengers are less likely to litter. A further study by Kuo and Sullivan, Aggression and Violence in the Inner City, showed that buildings with more green spaces reported less aggression and violence than barren buildings.6
Sam Lear, Environment Manager at Southern, noted the benefits that a community garden can bring to a station.
“It’s our perception that they make people feel safer in that there’s more presence and people about. In some incidences we’ve been able to record reduced antisocial behavior on the station as the result of a community garden.”
Commuters have positive interactions with both community gardens and volunteers, and gardens on platforms may lead to less stressful commutes.
“We’ve recorded incidences of people saying they come earlier to get their train so they have time to check out what’s new in the garden. We have incidences of people stopping the volunteers and thanking them for their garden because it makes them more cheerful. They’re always very positive about the garden.”
1. Parliament. House of Commons (2017) Obesity Statistics(3336). London.
2. NHS (2016) Causes of Obesity. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Causes.aspx
3. The King's Fund. (2016) Gardens and health. National Gardens Scheme. Available at: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_file/Gardens_and_health.pdf
4. Carly J. Wood, Jules Pretty, Murray Griffin. A case–control study of the health and well-being benefits of allotment gardening. J Public Health (Oxford)2016; 38 (3)
5. Frances E. Kuo, William C. Sullivan. (2016) Environment and Crime in the Inner City. Sage Journals: Vol 33, Issue 3, pp. 343 - 367
6. Frances E. Kuo, William C. Sullivan. (2001) Aggression and Violence in the Inner City. Sage Journals: Vol 33, Issue 4, pp. 543 - 571