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  • Subject: Re: [cg] Realism about the study: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COMMUNITY GARDENS
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 22:45:32 EDT

The reason  why this NYU and the Whitmire Study out of St. Louis's  Gateway 
Greening (_http://stlouis.missouri.org/gatewaygreening/WhitmireStudy.htm_ 
(http://stlouis.missouri.org/gatewaygreening/WhitmireStudy.htm) )  on the Economic 
Impact of Community Gardens are important to us in  the real world is this: 
When community gardeners are going to highly politicized zoning meetings,  
when they're trying to justify their existence to folks who want something else  
built on these lots having tomes of studies which the staffers will  read and 
summarize for the electeds and appointed is really important. Piles of  
studies, bore the suckers to tears - with great digestable quotes - you really  
want these. 
I mean, stories like mine, when the classic blood-sucking  landlord walked up 
to me, bent over gardening in NYC's Clinton Community Garden  and handed me a 
couple of twenties and said, " Keep it up kid, I'm making  more money off of 
the apartments with garden views than I though I ever would,"  are considered 
anecdotal in a legislative setting. 
But dollars for donuts, well kept, accessible, community managed public  
space is an excellent amenity, ad I'm really happy about any pile of  academic 
studies that I can bore a legislator and her staff with.  
Keep those cards, letter, footnoted studies coming. It's called baffling  
them with bull$#@&
Adam Honigman
Hell's Kitchen, 

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

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