Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Roby Greenwald

Second Advisor

John Steward



Promoting an Urban Utopia: The Role of Community Gardens on Community Vitality

Kayla Danielle Staley

April 19, 2019

INTRODUCTION: Community gardens are becoming more prevalent in urban environments in efforts to improve the physical, social, and environmental aspects of communities. There are known hypothesized benefits of community gardens about the physical and mental health of individuals who utilize them. However, the role of community gardens on community vitality as a whole has yet to be looked at substantially. The vitality of a community pertains to its ability to self-sustain, as well as promote a greater sense of well-being among its residents.

AIM: This study sought to explore relationships between community gardens and indicators of vitality over time when indicators of vitality are defined as median household income, educational attainment, the establishment of businesses and occupied housing units.

METHODS: A quantitative study design was conceptualized to allow quantitative data analysis of the United State Census Bureau data on the census tract level. Census tract data were obtained for each community garden and analyzed against the indicators of vitality, as defined by this paper, for each census tract that contained a community garden. Patterns and observations were made in an attempt to link the presence of community gardens and the potential role they have to play on the vitality of a community. County-level data were also analyzed for data relating to business and employment.

RESULTS: Results varied for each indicator of vitality for the community gardens within the sample population. All community gardens' census tracts experienced an increase in median household income from the last documented census to the most current datum in 2013. There were no direct associations between the presence of a community garden and the educational attainment of the residents within that census tract. There was an increase in total establishments within all counties included in the study from the last documented census to the most current data in 2013.

DISCUSSION: Overall, there is a loose association between the presence of community gardens and an increase in median household income per census tract. However, the presence of the community garden cannot be solidified as the sole or primary reason for this loose association, along with all other data analyzed. The research suggests that there is potential for a direct link between community gardens and the vitality of a community. However, there is room for further investigation of this topic, to solidify a useful tool to evaluate these potential benefits.