The Effect of Community Gardens on Property Crime Rates in Inner City Houston

in HortScience

Today, in many of America's major cities, communal gardening projects have not only yielded produce to their participants, but also a plethora of neighborhood success stories, including feelings of wellbeing, safety, and the beautification of acres of vacant land. According to anecdotal evidence, the presence of a community garden can connect people to the earth, nature, and each other, as well as reduce crime. The purpose of this study was to determine if a relationship existed between reported property crimes and the presence of inner city community gardens in Houston, Texas. According to the Houston Police Department, property crimes include vandalism, breaking and entering, and burglary. Crime data for reported property crimes from 1995 through 2004 were obtained from the Houston Police Department. The Houston Police Department divides the city into “beats” and property crime rates were determined for each beat. At least one active community garden was targeted for each police beat. Results for the study compared crime rates within a 1/8-mile radius surrounding the community garden and the property crime rate for the entire police beat. In addition to the evaluation of crime data, community garden members were surveyed for thoughts and opinions pertinent to the presence of their particular community garden.

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