Impact of Gardening on Refugee Mental Health, Community Building, and Economic Well-being in Central New York

Rashmi Gangamma (MFT) co-PI, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern (FST) co-PI, Bhavneet Walia (PH) co-PI,
Intramural Sponsored Project – 2018-2019 Lerner Center Faculty Fellows Grant

This project seeks to examine the relationship between home and community gardening practices, mental health indicators, community building, and socio-economic well-being (with an emphasis on food security) in resettled refugee populations. Existing literature on refugee populations suggests that refugees face a decreased probability of sustaining socio-economic development if nutritional and general health needs are unmet. Our proposal is to examine the role of gardening on mental health, community building, and socio-economic well-being, which has implications for developing policies and interventions at multiple levels. Given the recent changes in federal policies around refugee resettlement, there is a heightened need to increase efforts toward reducing racial/ethnic disparities and promoting health. We will collect data from100 individual refugees over a two-year period. Eligibility criteria include entry into the United States as a refugee over 18 years of age, and residence in Central New York during the study period. Surveys will be based on questions reflecting mental health, home and community gardening, and socio-economic wellbeing. In support of the Lerner Center Health Monday initiatives, we will reinforce the Meatless Monday’s theme by collecting meatless recipes from the home countries of the refugee families that highlight the fruits and vegetables from their gardens. Formal analysis using a mixed methods approach will be conducted. A series of model specifications will be performed to check for robustness of results.