The Value in Community Gardens: A Return on Investment Analysis
Keywords:community gardens, return on investment, urban agriculture, food systems
Food production in cities is increasingly regarded as one of the building blocks for sustainable urban living, particularly as the agricultural industry faces mounting ecological and economic constraints, and populations continue to concentrate in urban centers. While substantial research exists on the qualitative outcomes of urban agriculture (UA), few studies present these outcomes in monetary terms that align with municipal decision makers economic priorities. In response to this gap, this paper reviews the literature on potential outcomes of one form of UA—community gardens—and identifies where gaps exist which prevent the translation of garden outputs into an economic quantity. The paper then describes a pilot return on investment assessment of a community garden in Ontario, Canada. Substantial data constraints were encountered, however the limited available data indicate that community gardens may represent an ROI-positive government investment. Further local-level research quantifying garden impacts would enable a more robust case for community gardens in cities.
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