Context: Urban community gardens have been shown to make healthy foods more accessible and affordable. There is limited research available, however, regarding the influence of rural community gardens, where populations consume less fruits and vegetables and often travel further and pay more for healthy food. Objective: To evaluate rural community gardens’ abilities to increase accessibility and affordability of healthy foods through measurement of harvest weights and conversions to edible portion serving sizes and harvest values Design: Longitudinal pilot study Setting: Six geographically dispersed counties throughout Alabama during one fall production cycle Participants: Nine established rural community gardens Main outcomes measured: Production capabilities were measured as harvest weight, in pounds and ounces, which also were converted to edible portion serving sizes. Harvest values were calculated using harvest weights and the average retail prices for harvested produce. Results: At conclusion of the three-month growing season, the nine rural community gardens in this study yielded 19 different varieties of vegetables weighing a total of 2,708.71 pounds and valued at $3,788.22. This equated to 15,110.64 servings of vegetables, which is enough for 33 adults to meet the USDA daily vegetable recommendations during the three-month growing season. Conclusions: Findings from this study demonstrate by growing fresh vegetables, rural community gardens can increase the accessibility and affordability of healthy foods. This data suggests rural community gardens also may have a role in improving overall health and nutrition of rural populations.
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