When I was in grad school, I wrote a paper about the potential connection between community gardens and crime prevention, with specific attention to the city of Boston. I do not claim that I found conclusive evidence that urban gardens actually help reduce crime. If anything, my experience this year has shown that community gardens often (though definitely not always) pop up in neighborhoods with relatively low crime rates to begin with.
Still, on balance I stand by my previous hypotheses. Two major theories of crime prevention – broken windows theory and collective efficacy theory – predict that urban gardens could contribute in some incremental way to preventing crime in the surrounding neighborhood. By physically removing a vacant lot and requiring citizens to come together for a common purpose, community gardening fosters improvements to the urban landscape and enrichment of social capital, both of which are indicators of crime prevention.
A year and a half later, I’m still rather proud of this paper. If you’d like to read the whole thing, click here.