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Aime J. Sommerfeld, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

A questionnaire based on the Life Satisfaction Inventory A (LSIA) was used to investigate older adult (age 50+ years) gardeners' and nongardeners' perceptions of personal life satisfaction and levels of physical activity. The LSIA measures five components of quality of life: “zest for life,” “resolution and fortitude,” “congruence between desired and achieved goals,” “physical, psychological, and social self-concept,” and “optimism.” Additional multiple-choice questions were asked to determine respondents' level of physical activity, perceptions of overall health and well-being as well as to gather demographic information. The survey was posted on a university homepage for ≈1 month. Responses were gathered from 298 participants who differentiated themselves as gardeners or nongardeners by responding positively or negatively to the question “do you garden?” Results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of overall life satisfaction scores with gardeners receiving higher mean scores indicating more positive results on the LSIA. Four individual quality-of-life statements included in the LSIA yielded statistically significantly more positive answers by gardeners when compared with nongardeners. Other questions regarding healthful practices revealed that personal reports of physical activity and perceptions of personal health were statistically significantly more positive among gardeners when compared with nongardeners.

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Aime J. Sommerfeld, Amy L. McFarland, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

New dietary guidelines recommend eating more than five servings of fruit and vegetables each day without setting upper limitations. Although older adults tend to report a higher intake of fruit and vegetables than other age groups, over half of the U.S. older population does not meet the recommendation of five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Research has shown that gardening is one way of improving fruit and vegetable intake. The primary focuses of this study were to examine and compare fruit and vegetable consumption of gardeners and nongardeners and to investigate any differences in fruit and vegetable consumption of long-term gardeners when compared with newer gardeners in adults older than age 50 years. An online survey was designed to be answered by older adults (50 years or older) and respondents self-selected themselves for inclusion in the study. A total of 261 questionnaires was completed. Data collected were analyzed using statistical procedures, including descriptive statistics, Pearson's product-moment correlations, and multivariate analysis of variance. The results of this research supports previous studies that indicated gardeners were more likely to consume vegetables when compared with nongardeners. However, these results were not found with regard to fruit consumption between gardeners and nongardeners. Additionally, the length of time an individual reported having participated in gardening activities seemed to have no relationship to the number of vegetables and fruit reported as consumed, which suggests gardening intervention programs late in life would be an effective method of boosting vegetable and fruit consumption in older adults. Gender was also evaluated with no statistically significant differences found for overall fruit and vegetable intake.

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Amy McFarland, Tina M. Waliczek, Coleman Etheredge, and Aime J. Sommerfeld Lillard

Although some benefits of gardening have been documented, motivations regarding participation in gardening are often considered based on anecdote. The purpose of this study was to use qualitative analysis to explore reasons gardeners from different genders and generations participate in gardening. The questions developed for this study were intentionally exploratory and left open-ended to gather a large variety of responses. Surveys were collected from 177 individuals between the ages of 7 and 94 years old. Responses were categorized into themes identified through the literature review, the pilot study, and through exploration of the data. Responses could fit into as many categories as were mentioned by the respondents and were categorized by three independent coders. Interrater reliability was assessed using a two-way mixed, absolute agreement, average measures intraclass correlation (ICC) and determined the degree to which coders provided consistency in their ratings across participants. Themes developed through this survey included “social interaction,” “aesthetics,” “food availability/health/nutrition,” “economics,” “therapeutic,” “environmental benefits,” “nostalgia,” and “personal productivity.” Themes of personal productivity and nostalgia are those which have not occurred in previous research. Statistically significant differences were found in comparisons among males and females with more males gardening for food/health/nutrition and for reasons regarding nostalgia. More females reported gardening for personal productivity when compared with males. No significant difference was identified in comparisons of gardeners from various age groups indicating that gardeners across generations have similar intentions and receive similar benefits.