Urban gardening brings marked benefits to the health of Latinos

Denver (CO), Jan 6 (EFE).- The practice of urban gardening, whether home or community, offers marked benefits for the physical and mental health of gardeners, reveals a scientific study released today by the University of Colorado (CU ) in Boulder.

And among the most benefited are Latinos, especially low-income families.

The investigations, considered the first of their kind in the United States for being “randomized and controlled,” lasted a year and were supervised by the Department of Environmental Studies at CU-Boulder, with funding from the American Cancer Society (ACS). .

After analyzing changes in the health of about 300 participants (all from the Denver area) in the experiment and comparing those changes to people who did not garden during the time of the study, the researchers found that “those who started gardening an orchard ate more fiber and were more physically active, two known ways to reduce the risk of cancer and chronic disease.”

“They also saw their stress and anxiety levels decrease significantly,” adds the report published in the specialized journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

Dr. Jill Litt, a professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and lead author of the study, said in a statement, “These findings provide concrete evidence that community gardening could play an important role in the prevention of cancer, chronic diseases, and disorders.” of mental health”.

Research found that Hispanics (accounting for one-third of participants, as a proportion of the percentage of Hispanics in Denver) benefited from their urban gardens by increasing fiber intake and increasing weekly physical activity time by 42 minutes. In addition, “their level of stress and anxiety was reduced.”

Litt noted that these benefits were more important for disadvantaged families because, in addition to planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables, “they had the opportunity to be with others” and, even more important, “those immigrants who already grew food in their countries of origin They were able to pass on traditional recipes to their relatives and neighbors.”

For Hispanic immigrants, especially those who live in apartments, that “social connection” created by urban gardening “is enormous,” Litt said, stressing that this activity allows “sharing techniques and recipes, and over time relationships blossom.”

The study was conducted in cooperation with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a nonprofit organization that each year helps some 18,000 people grow their own gardens.

In fact, according to data from the community organization The GrowHaus (which provides plots for crops in the Hispanic neighborhoods of north Denver), since 2019 some 600 families of Mexican farmers “reconnected with healthy food” and with “their amazing food culture ” thanks to urban gardening.

In this context, Litt anticipated that the study on the benefits of gardening could even be expanded to a national level. In the meantime, she said, health professionals, legislators and urban planners should “create community gardens and other spaces that encourage people to come together in nature, as a vital part of the public health system.”

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