Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

John Steward, M.P.H.

Second Advisor

Kymberle Sterling, Ph.D.


Brownfields have an important impact on health. They can influence physical health by increasing risk for health hazards such as the potential for injury hazards, disease transmission, or exposure to chemicals. They can also influence social health determinants like neighborhood level social capital or behavioral risk factors. Reusing brownfields for community gardens reduces environmental hazards and associated health hazards. It further promotes public health, and sustainable quality environment. Community gardens increase nutrition access, especially for many in low income populations, and community aesthetic. They also strengthen social cohesion and create recreational or therapeutic opportunities for a community, becoming part of the urban green space network. Special care must be taken to protect public health when reusing a brownfield for a community garden, like sampling for chemicals, cleaning up soil, and using protective garden designs. The overall benefit to the community is worth the initial investment required.