A new study led by University of Colorado scholars shows that community gardeners harvest better health, as well as stronger connections to their neighborhoods.

Community gardeners eat more vegetables, exercise more, weigh less and feel healthier than non-gardeners — and even home gardeners — in the Denver-metro area, researchers found.

Community gardens are parcels of land divided into plots in which people can grow vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Denver-area community gardeners consume an average of 5.7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with 4.6 servings for home gardeners and 3.9 servings for non-gardeners.

And the average body-mass index for community gardeners is 24.2, compared with 27.2 for non-gardeners. A BMI of 25 or higher has been a measurement used to suggest that a person is overweight.

The research team includes Jill Litt, an assistant professor in the CU environmental studies program. The findings were published in the journals “Social Science and Medicine” and “The American Journal of Public Health.”

The study also found that community gardeners tend to feel more attached to and protective of their neighborhoods. And community gardeners engaged in 720 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, compared with 570 minutes a week for non-gardeners.

At the Kerr Community Garden, plots range from $48 to $183, depending on size, and reduced rates are offered to low-income gardeners.

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