Gardening as tool to foster health and cultural identity in the context of international migration: Attitudes and constraints in a female population

A. C. Bellows, G. V. Alcaraz, T. Vivar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Food production, procurement, and consumption represent daily practices and learned knowledge that are embedded in daily life and food environments of distinct and overlapping cultures and traditions. These practices and knowledge, often gendered, evolve to preserve community and individual health, and in their reiterative forms, they contribute in shaping cultural identity. Migration disturbs habits of geographic particularity and familiar social networks: the environment of food practices and knowledge changes, including food production for home consumption. This study presents results from a community diet, health, and food practices (i.e., gardening) survey conducted with 30 Oaxaca, Mexico-born women with children under 18 who migrated to New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA and 30 female family counter-parts still living the State of Oaxaca in Mexico. Results show that NB migrants engage in fewer gardening activities than the Oaxacan counterparts, perceive themselves to be less knowledgeable and confident about gardening, and report a lack of sufficient space for this activity. In general, the majority of respondents in both groups held positive attitudes towards gardening on its relation to physical exercise, the fun derived from it, and its perception as source of fresh and healthy food. About three-quarters of the NB group indicated their desire to garden as it reminds them of Mexico. The promotion of home gardening on the Mexican migrant community in New Brunswick could have positive effects on the general health of the immigrants, on their food security status, and on their social and cultural environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationII International Conference on Landscape and Urban Horticulture
PublisherInternational Society for Horticultural Science
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9789066056435
StatePublished - Nov 25 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameActa Horticulturae
ISSN (Print)0567-7572


  • Food environment
  • Food production
  • Traditional knowledge
  • Urban agriculture
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


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