The Impact of a Community Garden on the Residents of Wharton, Texas
Prior research reveals that community gardens have the propensity to impact wellness outcomes in underserved communities. A study of a community garden in Wharton, Texas sponsored by a non-profit organization, Hesed House, illustrates the impact of the garden on community wellness. The Hesed House community garden focused on impacting the underserved, defined as residents living in poverty, single parents, children, elderly, food insecure residents, as well as those with chronic health issues such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Through a mixed methods approach encompassing document reviews, interviews, site visits, and web scraping, this study identified key themes associated with the benefits of the Hesed House community garden. The results of the study revealed that the Hesed House community garden positively impacted food security and sustainability, community relationships, intra- and interpersonal skills, and the health and wellness of garden patrons and volunteers in Wharton, Texas. Overall, the study provides initial findings to guide further research into the impact of community gardens on participant wellness. In particular, future areas of inquiry may be enhanced through establishing a means to formally track physical health changes associated with interacting with a community garden, documenting increased community connections, and identifying additional opportunities to learn in community gardens.