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Realism about the study: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COMMUNITY GARDENS

  • Subject: [cg] Realism about the study: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COMMUNITY GARDENS
  • From: "Brown, Jonathan, Ph.D." Jonathan.Brown@kpchr.org
  • Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 18:19:57 -0700
  • Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
  • Thread-index: AcZihjRvyLa4FvnpQbyjMPVA3igFTg==
  • Thread-topic: Realism about the study: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COMMUNITY GARDENS

It's great to have this study and the researchers should be thanked for putting in a lot of hard work.  But, honestly, they are wrong to conclude that "the opening of a garden has a statistically significant positive impact on residential properties" or that "gardens have the greatest impact in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods."  The reason is that an "observational" study of this kind cannot show causality...as the authors say themselves (on page 7) while criticizing other authors' studies.  Property values are likely to have the strongest percentage growth in the places that have the lowest values to start with.  These are also the neighborhoods that were likely to have to most abandoned land where gardens could take root.

I'm not saying that starting gardens did not have an impact!  I'm just saying this study, while a definite contribution, does not prove it one way or the other.  If these authors want to publish their work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, they will have to tone down their conclusions, be forthcoming about the limitations of their study, and consider other explanations for their findings.

Why do I stick my neck out to say these unpleasant things?  I'm a community garden manager and volunteer in Portland, Oregon.  We just went through a tough period of defending our Portland gardens from budget cuts and privatization.  Most community gardens face these fights periodically, if not perennially.  I think we lose credibility when we quote whatever seems favorable to our cause and ignore anything that seems negative.  Any gardener knows you can't grow plants that way.  The same goes for gardens--and gardeners.

Now back to the seedlings!

Jonathan Brown



-----Original Message-----
From: plantlot@rcn.com [mailto:plantlot@rcn.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 15, 2006 7:02 PM
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Subject: RE: [cg] Re: BRAND NEW STUDY--ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COMMUNITY
GARDENS


I went to a briefing by the researchers. They used the data from 
Council on the Environment's Community Garden Mapping 
Project to locate the gardens and determine the dates the 
gardens started. In fact the study would have been much more 
difficult and time consuming without the CGMP data.
 
I read the paper and this is a serious academic, real estate /law 
study. As the researchers explained to us, the real estate 
developers / industry has the money to pay for studies to show 
the economic benefits of building on a parcel of land. 
Communirty Gardeners don't have the money.

Mike McGrath pointed out, the best paragraph we can take from 
the study clearly shows that cgs have a positive impact on the 
value nearby residential properties. (Not such a clear impact on 
commercial properties). (Paragraph copied below)
Another great quote from the study,
"Our results show that such gardens can lead to increases in tax 
revenues of around $1 million per garden over a 20 year period.
"

These are NYC real estate numbers so the impact may be less in 
other cities...
According to the researchers these are conservative estimates 
and take into account costs incurred by the city in the creation 
and maintenance of the garden. As many people may realize 
those are not easy figures to estimate.

"We find that the opening of a community garden has a 
statistically significant positive impact on residential properties 
within 1000 feet of the garden, and that the impact increases 
over time. We find that gardens have the greatest impact in the 
most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Higher quality gardens have 
the greatest positive impact. Finally, we find that the opening of 
a garden is associated with other changes in the neighborhood, 
such as increasing rates of homeownership, and thus may be 
serving as catalysts for economic redevelopment of the 
community."

I have asked ACGA to post the paper or a link on the ACGA 
website.

Lenny Librizzi


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