Plotters will remember a few months back being asked to help an RGU student, Brittany Forbes, with her Honour’s Degree Project in which she tried to quantify the health and well-being benefits of working an allotment.  Brittany has been kind enough to send a summary of her final report and it brings good news.

A comparison of fruit and vegetable consumption and wellbeing in allotment holders and non-allotment holders

While there is some research to show that allotment gardening has a beneficial effect on general health and wellbeing, there is currently little quantitative evidence in the UK to support this. The aim of this research was to assess fruit and vegetable consumption and general wellbeing in allotment participants and non-participants. A paper based questionnaire was sent to 468 Aberdeen City Council allotment holders with a second copy of the questionnaire for a matched control (a friend or colleague of the same sex, age and postcode, who does not grow their own produce either on an allotment or in a garden). A total of 104 questionnaires were completed and returned (11% response rate), with 45 pairs of questionnaires from allotment holders and a suitable matched control . Allotment holders (n=45) reported consuming more fruit and vegetables habitually, a median of 7 portions from a 24 hour recall, compared to the 45 matched non-allotment holders who reported a median of 6 (p = 0.01). In addition there was a statistically significant higher proportion of allotment holders consuming the recommended 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day compared to non-allotment holders (p = 0.03). Allotment holders reported higher satisfaction levels regarding time spent outdoors, exercise and diet as a whole compared to non-allotment holders. However there was no significant difference with satisfaction of other aspects of wellbeing, such as weight and life as a whole. Overall, the present research highlights the potential contribution of allotment gardens to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

I am pleased to report that Brittany’s interesting study helped her gain a First Class Honours Degree. Thanks to all GFAA members who acted as a focus group as part of her research design activity or completed and returned her questionnaire.