Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw

Second Advisor

Debbie Humphries


Background: Wangari Gardens is a community garden and garden education nonprofit located in the northwest region of Washington, DC. The gardens consist of 110 individual garden plots, public gardens open to harvest by any local resident of DC, and an outdoor classroom that holds free weekly workshops on gardening topics for all community members.

Objective: To explore the health and community related experiences of community members who hold garden plots at Wangari Gardens.

Methods: 17 semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted at the community garden. Interviews lasted a half hour on average, and covered topics of how one chose to garden both broadly and at Wangari, benefits of gardening, and challenges associated with community gardening. Interviews were recorded and transcripts analyzed using qualitative data analysis software.

Results: Community members chose to begin gardening to improve nutrition, manage chronic disease symptoms, cultivate an ongoing hobby, and establish a greater connection with nature and their surrounding community. Community members continued gardening to maintain relationships created at the gardens, physical benefits, harvest from garden plots, and feelings of self-efficacy.

Conclusion: Community gardens provide multi-faceted benefits to community members, including individual level benefits such as a greater sense of physical well-being and enjoyment of healthy food, and community level benefits such as bringing community members together and creating a sense of community ownership of the land and their health. This work adds to the growing body of literature on the benefits of utilizing green spaces in urban areas for community growth and health initiatives.

*Final product is a color brochure including a photo voice component


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access