Authors: M.R. Gorham, T.M. Waliczek, A. Snelgrove, J.M. Zajicek

Research has suggested that city environments with more green space may have lower crime levels. For this pilot study, 11 established community gardens in Houston, TX, were selected and mapped using ArcGIS 9.1 software. The numbers of property crimes reported in the 2005 crime data from the Houston Police Department surrounding the community garden areas at a distance of 1/8 mile were then tallied and mapped for the areas. The numbers of crimes were evaluated alongside demographic data from the 2000 U.S. Census. Statistical comparisons were made between community garden areas and randomly selected city areas that were within a 1-mile area surrounding each garden. Initial results of paired t tests indicated no statistically significant differences between the mean number of crime occurrences in community garden areas and the mean number of crimes in randomly selected areas. Results from a linear regression analysis also indicated that the presence of a community garden was not a predictor of a lower crime rate for a neighborhood. Adjustments were then made by removing randomly selected areas that were demographically least like their respective community gardens. Results from further analysis indicated that there were no crime number differences between the community garden areas and the randomly selected areas. However, interviews conducted with community garden representatives showed that community gardens appeared to have a positive influence on neighborhoods, with residents reporting neighborhood revitalization, perceived immunity from crime, and neighbors emulating gardening practices they saw at the community gardens.

Suggested Citation

Gorham, M.R., T.M. Waliczek, A. Snelgrove, and J.M. Zajicek. 2009. The impact of community gardens on numbers of property crimes in urban Houston. HortTechnology 19(2):291-296.