KUSA - Community gardens are growing in popularity and a new University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) study is looking into the health benefits as well.
More than 300 participants will take part in the study over the next three years.
The non-profit, Denver Urban Gardens (DUG,) is helping with the research.
"Our role in the study is to provide gardens and gardeners for Dr. Litt and her research team," said Lara Fahnestock, the director of garden support for DUG.
The organization has more than 160 gardens across the Denver metro area.
It will randomly assign half of the participants to community gardens with a focus on low-income areas with less access to healthy foods.
"These are the gardens we chose to focus on to help the underserved communities and the people that would benefit most from the research study," said Fahnestock.
"We're definitely very interested in finding solutions that are available, affordable and accessible in low income and minority areas - where physical activity may be lower and access to healthy food may be in short supply," Jill Litt, an associate professor a public health researcher and professor of environmental studies at CU Boulder, added.
But researchers say it's not just about eating healthier.
"It's more than just growing food, we're interested in the relationships that build over the course of the experience," said Litt. "We want to understand how environmental changes affect populations in the neighborhood. We specifically we want to know if people change their behavior, like if they start eating better, and they start changing their diet, and if they are showing more and higher level of activities - why? Is it just the garden or is it a whole range of things that might happen as a result of participating."
Fahnestock added, "It goes beyond the taste of the fresh vegetables. It is watching the whole process. There is also the community, it is getting to know your neighbors, it is working along side your community to beautify the area, to grow food, people share food - they share work days."
Each participant will be screened before they plant, during harvest, and one year later to track their diets, activity levels and health.
If you're interested in taking part in the study you can apply by contacting Angel Villalobos, the program manager for the community gardening research study.
You can email him at email@example.com, or give him a call at 303-724-1235.
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