Research suggests that natural areas such as gardens may lead to improved mental health, reduced crime, and promote good health and well-being for residents living in that community. Improving blighted properties (removing graffiti, litter, signs of poor home maintenance, etc.) could help residents engage more in their community. One way of doing this is by facilitating greening projects.
Researchers from the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center explored this phenomenon and tested whether yard maintenance and blight removal on one property has a positive effect on surrounding properties. The study, published in the Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning focused on 842 produce gardens, in Flint, Michigan, a city that has been hit particularly hard by de-industrialization and urban sprawl. The research team analyzed the maintenance ratings of 215 occupied parcels within 100 meters of a produce garden and 627 occupied parcels within 100 meters of a vacant lot.
Results of this study showed that residential parcels close to produce gardens had better maintenance than residential parcels near undeveloped vacant lots. Findings suggest that produce gardens may serve as a visual representation of community investment, causing the spread of blight elimination and maintenance upkeep among nearby parcels.
Krusky, A. M., Heinze, J. E., Reischl, T. M., Aiyer, S. M., Franzen, S. P.,& Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). The effects of produce gardens on neighborhoods: A test of the greening hypothesis in a post-industrial city. Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.12.003