In January 2010 I wrote:
by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)
Read at : Sheffield Univ. – Environment Division
“Producers of ‘home grown’ food can gain psychological and physiological benefits through physical activity and improved nutrition, as well as through self empowerment, engaging with nature, and participating in communal activities. Lack of physical activity and low intake of fruit and vegetables is linked to poor health, but little is known about how the health benefits of physical exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption relate to their environmental setting. Studies of these benefits have often focused on particular social groups such as the elderly or those with mental illness.”
The paragraph above describes the major benefits of growing your own food in allotment gardens. Key words are :
- Physiological benefits: physical activity, improved nutrition, improved health
- Psychological benefits: self empowerment, engagement with nature, participation in community.
In fact, these benefits also go for family gardens (kitchen gardens), school gardens and hospital gardens. One can imagine that extraordinary improvement in nutrition and health can be achieved if people in the drylands and in refugee camps would be enabled to grow their own food, be it in allotment gardens or in community gardens.
I remain confident that international aid organizations and NGOs, sooner or later, will set up programmes and projects to install these types of gardens to combat hunger and malnutrition and to assure food security in hostile environments.