The Economics of Community Gardening


We evaluate determinants of community gardens in Philadelphia census tracts by developing a model of community gardening and testing it with negative binomial regression techniques. We find that home vacancy rates, labor force participation rates, poverty rates, and the number of healthy food stores have a positive impact. Theft rates, unemployment rates, the percentage of African Americans and non-citizens, home ownership rates, assault rates, and the existence of parkland all have a negative effect. Population density has an inverse-U effect. Our results are consistent with the argument that community gardening improves food security and social capital in needy neighborhoods.

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  1. 1.

    For simplicity, only Figure 1 shows all the relevant variables. The later figures show only the impact on time spent gardening.

  2. 2.

    We had initially feared that the crime statistics would be highly correlated, but the correlations were surprisingly low.

  3. 3.

    We also used a censored estimation truncated at zero. The results were largely the same as those shown here and are available upon request.


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We thank Eva Marikova Leeds and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions. We also thank Michael Narin and Domenic Vitiello for allowing us to use their GIS data on community gardens in Philadelphia and Mahbubur Meenar for allowing us to use the healthy corner store and supermarket GIS data. This research was supported in part by a grant from the Temple University Diamond Scholar Research Program.

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Garrett, A., Leeds, M. The Economics of Community Gardening. Eastern Econ J 41, 200–213 (2015).

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  • community gardens
  • time allocation
  • negative binomial

JEL Classifications

  • R14
  • J22