Literature Review

A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated.

This Literature Review was part of broader research conducted by Bliss Graetz as a Summer Research Scholar.

By Bliss Graetz

Masters of Landscape Architecture. Community Garden Summer Research Scholarship Recipient, 2019-2020. Supervisor – Fabricio Chicca. Associate Supervisors – Brittany Rymer (WCC), Tim Packer (Innermost Gardens), Chris Montgomery (Innermost Gardens

Description of Research

Milestone 1

Literature Review on the Social, Health and Environmental impacts of community gardens and how they are measured. The literature review identifies a range of local and international reports and studies that focus on community gardens social, health or environmental impacts and how they have been measured.

Milestone 2

Data collection and analysis. Data collection was done in two parts. The first was 10 informal interviews with gardeners from Innermost Gardens in Mt Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand. These interviews have been transformed into a word cloud to seek the most common terms. The second part was 10 hours of surveying composters at Innermost gardens. The compost data has been transformed into graphs.

Milestone 3

Website content for Innermost’s ‘Green KPI’s’ project, now called ‘Village Garden Project’. The website content entails a new set of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and ways to measure them for Innermost and other current or future community gardens/urban farms in Wellington, New Zealand.

A Summary

The literature review was set out to gain a better understanding of the role of community gardens and the impact they have on the different communities they serve.

This part of the research has been important to identify different impacts community gardens have had around the world and how they have been measured to see if similarities exist in Wellington community gardens. This is so we can apply new methods to measure impacts from community gardens in the Wellington context.

Reports, studies and other content from twenty- five sources that focused on studying either the social, health or environmental impacts of community gardens were reviewed. The literature review identifies key distinctions to make when assessing these three impacts.

It was concluded these distinctions are crucial to consider when designing methods to measure the impacts of community gardens or other forms of urban agriculture. It also highlighted the importance to generate more quantitative evidence on the benefits of community gardening if we are to promote more evidence-based planning for urban agriculture growth.

Overall these findings from the review assisted the formation of a critical framework of KPI’s to measure Wellington’s Urban agriculture impact (See part 3.3). Data collection at Innermost gardens aimed to gain more information on the impacts the gardens have had in the community and compare it to sources found in the literature review. Interviews with gardeners were conducted to gain more qualitative information on the social impacts of the gardens. Compost surveys, on the other hand, were conducted to seek more quantitative data on the environmental impacts of the gardens.

The ten interviews with gardeners from Innermost Gardens displayed similar findings in terms of the social, health benefits and challenges to the findings in the literature review. The most common and similar benefits found were peoples sense of belonging, social wellness, social opportunity, physical health improvements, improved gardening skills, and sense of environmental stewardship.

A lot of the challenges mentioned were either to do with folk stealing produce or facility limitations such as access to toilets and water. The compost surveys found that most composters live within 500 meters of the gardens and travel there on foot. It was also found most drop off 10 litres of food scraps, once per week, for soil health and environmental reasons along with not having access to composting facilities at home.

As mentioned earlier the literature review assisted the development of a new set of KPI’s. Four reports or studies from the literature review that had used or suggested obvious key point indicators were analysed against each other, Innermost KPI’s and Five Borough Farm’s KPI’s. The Five Borough Farm’s report executed the most elaborate set of keypoint indicators and ways to measure them (Cohen, 2012), although they were tailored towards New York City urban agriculture, specifically urban farms that gain revenue form produce.

The Five Boroughs sets of KPI’s still provided a good example for organisation and measuring methods. All six sets of KPI’s were identified (part 3.2), and the most important and relevant measures were put together to tailor towards measuring Wellington’s current and future urban agriculture (part 3.3). This chart will be accessible on Innermost’s ‘Green KPI’s Project’ website, now called ‘Village Garden Project’.


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  • Armstrong, D. (2000). A survey of community gardens in upstate New York: Implications for health promotion and community development. Health and Place, 319-327.
  • Beilin, R., & Hunter, A. (2011). Co-constructing the sustainable city: How indicators help us “grow” more than just food in community gardens. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 523-538.
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