In the Bruistuin project (a green and healthy community project), residents of a multi-ethnic neighbourhood in Arnhem have gained hands-on practice with a green and healthy life style. The Bruistuin ("lively garden") was a multifunctional community garden where local residents could grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs. The aim of the garden was to strengthen the neighbourhood community and help participants gain a better understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. Researchers of the Louis Bolk Institute studied the health effects of this innovative 'Green Care concept'. The project was funded by various parties, including ZonMW (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) and Volkshuisvesting (Arnhem Housing Corporation).
Introducing a community garden increases social interaction and promotes local initiatives within the neighbourhood. Results were compared to a similar neighbourhood without a community garden. No effect was found on residents' lifestyle, diet or exercise patterns. However, a positive effect was found on social welfare, in terms of increased social interaction between different groups of residents, greater confidence in the neighbourhood, and new local initiatives. Download the report (in Dutch).
Tackling 'western' diseases
Western diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are becoming increasingly widespread. In the Netherlands, during the last few years this increase has been most prevalent in non-Western immigrants. By focussing on health, prevention and behaviour (rather than on illness and intervention) the Bruistuin project hopes to reach several goals at once: a stronger neighbourhood community, a greater involvement of various groups in the neighbourhood, a change of lifestyle, and healthier people.
Lively Garden short movie (in Dutch)