Deakin University

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Sowing social inclusion for marginalised residents of a social housing development through a community garden

journal contribution
posted on 2019-09-01, 00:00 authored by Nkolika J Mmako, Teresa CapetolaTeresa Capetola, Claire Henderson-WilsonClaire Henderson-Wilson
ISSUE ADDRESSED: In addition to food, physical activity, mental health and environmental benefits, community gardens (CGs) provide opportunities for social inclusion and increased social capital. These are particularly important to the socially isolated residents of social housing developments (SHDs). This scoping study explored the feasibility of a CG program for tenants of SHD in inner eastern Melbourne by assessing their interest in, and requirements for, inclusively designed CGs. METHODS: In this phenomenological enquiry, focus group discussions, supported by photo-elicitation, were employed. Three focus groups (N = 19) were conducted with self-selected participants who consented to participate. Two focus groups were conducted with English-speaking tenants while a third focus group was conducted with Mandarin-speaking tenants. RESULTS: There was a demand for CGs by the English-speaking participants driven by desire for networking, social connectedness and inclusion; for improved access to fresh produce, connection with nature, physical activity and mental well-being. Participants expressed interest in a garden located near their SHD with supportive physical and social environments including disability access, plot autonomy, fencing, socio-cultural events, training programs and management opportunities. However, the Mandarin-speaking tenants maintained that age, language difficulty and neighbourhood insecurity posed significant barriers to their participation. CONCLUSION: Guided by the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, social inclusion and community development theories, the study recommends that to establish socially inclusive CGs, a dynamic relationship of the design principles of a CG and the socio-ecological determinants of health should be established to address any barriers and successfully facilitate engagement. In addition, CG programs need to be guided by community development principles. Future research could employ community-based participatory research models in the implementation and evaluation of a CG program for socially isolated population groups.



Health promotion journal of Australia






350 - 358


John Wiley & Sons


Chichester, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Australian Health Promotion Association