Is gardening associated with greater happiness of urban residents? A multi-activity, dynamic assessment in the Twin-Cities region, USA

Graham Ambrose, Kirti Das, Yingling Fan, Anu Ramaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As cities seek to become more livable and environment-friendly, activities like bicycling, walking, and urban gardening (household and community-gardening) are receiving much attention. However, few field studies have measured well-being of urban gardening, particularly during household gardening. Our study develops protocols to measure emotional well-being (EWB) reported during household gardening, comparing it with other leisure and day-to-day activities. We also explore how gardening EWB varies across gardener type (vegetable vs ornamental), demographics, neighborhood type, and companionship during gardening. Using a recently developed app-based Day Reconstruction Method, EWB was measured across 370 participants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, USA, wherein 118 (32%) reported engaging in household gardening. Innovatively, five measures of EWB were computed for each participant for each activity type: average net affect, average happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness). Among all three average EWB measures, gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities assessed, and, is not statistically different from biking, walking and eating out. All four of these activities fall behind other leisure/recreation activities, which ranks first. For frequency of experiencing peak happiness, only other leisure/recreation activities were statistically higher than all the remaining (14) activities. Average net affect of gardening was significantly higher for vegetable gardeners (vs ornamental), for low-income gardeners (vs higher income) and for women. Companionship while gardening at home, race/ethnicity and urban versus suburban location showed no significant difference. Livability and equity considerations based on these EWB findings, and their impacts on urban food plans, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103776
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Volume198
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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