1. ITV Report

Feel more 'satisfied in life' get an allotment

Joining an allotment scheme can help you feel satisfied in life. Photo: PA Images

Joining a box scheme, community garden or allotment scheme helps you feel more satisfied with your life, according to research by the Essex Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the University of Essex.

Over 18 months, the ESI team looked at whether participation in local food projects, which can also include community supported agriculture schemes and shopping at farmers markets, might contribute to people’s well-being in the East of England.

The research surveyed more than 450 people in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk to find out whether there are identifiable differences in the well-being of people who participate in local food projects compared to those who do not.

The research team also looked into whether the type and length of involvement in such schemes affect how well people feel.

The ESI’s findings include:

  • People who participate in local food projects are more satisfied with their lives and feel more positive than those who do not.
  • Those who regularly participate have greater life satisfaction than those who participate less regularly.
  • The longer people are involved with local food schemes the lower their feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Local food project participants feel more connected with nature.
  • People who participate in local food projects eat more healthily.
An elderly gentleman attends vegetables on his allotment, in South Woodford in Essex. Credit: PA Images

The research included an online survey of 459 people, including respondents who participated in local food projects and those who did not.

The team used this survey to compare feelings of well-being between the two groups and also collected details of people’s diets and lifestyles.

The ESI also held focus group workshops with participants of local food projects, exploring in more detail how their involvement in these schemes benefits people’s well-being.

Research suggests people who actively participate in local food projects feel more connected to nature and eat more healthily.

“For the first time, we have real numbers available that prove the positive link between well-being and people’s participation in local food projects. We hope that councils, businesses and communities will find these findings useful. We particularly hope that local food schemes will be more supported by policy makers, which can also make a positive contribution to growing our local economies.”

– Professor Steffen Böhm, Essex Sustainability Institute