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Open Access Research

Association between community garden participation and fruit and vegetable consumption in rural Missouri

Ellen K Barnidge1, Pamela R Hipp2*, Amy Estlund1, Kathleen Duggan2, Kathryn J Barnhart1 and Ross C Brownson23

Author Affiliations

1 Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Saint Louis University College for Public Health & Social Justice, 3545 Lafayette Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

2 Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1006, 621 North Skinker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63130, USA

3 Division of Public Health Sciences and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:128  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-128

Published: 19 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Fruit and vegetable consumption reduces chronic disease risk, yet the majority of Americans consume fewer than recommended. Inadequate access to fruits and vegetables is increasingly recognized as a significant contributor to low consumption of healthy foods. Emerging evidence shows the effectiveness of community gardens in increasing access to, and consumption of, fruits and vegetables.

Methods

Two complementary studies explored the association of community garden participation and fruit and vegetable consumption in rural communities in Missouri. The first was with a convenience sample of participants in a rural community garden intervention who completed self-administered surveys. The second was a population-based survey conducted with a random sample of 1,000 residents in the intervention catchment area.

Results

Participation in a community garden was associated with higher fruit and vegetable consumption. The first study found that individuals who worked in a community garden at least once a week were more likely to report eating fruits and vegetables because of their community garden work (X2 (125) = 7.78, p = .0088). Population-based survey results show that 5% of rural residents reported participating in a community garden. Those who reported community garden participation were more likely to report eating fruits 2 or more times per day and vegetables 3 or more times per day than those who did not report community garden participation, even after adjusting for covariates (Odds Ratio [OR] = 2.76, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.35 to 5.65).

Conclusion

These complementary studies provide evidence that community gardens are a promising strategy for promoting fruit and vegetable consumption in rural communities.

Keywords:
Community gardens; Nutrition; Rural population