Valuing Physical and Social Output: A Rapid Assessment of a London Community Garden

Victoria Schoen, Silvio Caputo, Chris Blythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The value of urban farms and gardens in terms of their potential for supplying a healthy diet to local residents is well known. However, the prime objective of these spaces often differs from one of food production with this being the means by which other outputs are achieved. Valuing these spaces that provide diverse benefits is therefore a complex exercise as any measure needs to incorporate their physical as well as their social outputs. Only through such an integrated approach is the true value of these gardens revealed and the scale of their potential for contributing to health agendas made apparent. Social return on investment studies can be heavily resource dependent and the rapid cost benefit approach advanced here suggests that with limited expertise and minimal invasion of volunteer and beneficiary time and space, a public value return on investment ratio can be estimated relatively rapidly using an ‘off the shelf’ tool. For the food growing area of a London community garden, a return on investment of £3 for every £1 invested is calculated. This demonstrates the contribution that community gardens can make to social wellbeing within cities and justifies a call for further recognition of these spaces in urban planning policy.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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