In the Bruistuin project (a green and healthy community project), residents of a multi-ethnic neighbourhood in Arnhem are gaining hands-on practice with a green and healthy life style. The Bruistuin ("lively garden") is a multifunctional community garden where local residents can grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs. The aim of the garden is to strengthen the neighbourhood community and help participants gain a better understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. Researchers of the Louis Bolk Institute are studying the health effects of this innovative 'Green Care concept'. The project is funded by various parties, including ZonMW (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) and Volkshuisvesting (Arnhem Housing Corporation).
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.
The garden so farThe project kick-off took place in October 2011, with an information afternoon where residents could share their ideas about the design and maintenance of the garden. In May 2012 the official opening festivities were held, and gardening activities were begun by enthusiastic volunteers. Each week, groups of adults and children worked together in the garden. Among many other things, they built raised containers to allow elderly residents to grow spinach without having to bend down. After the long winter of 2012-2013, gardening activities started again this spring. For more information, please visit www.bruishuis.nl (in Dutch).
Health screening of Lively Garden participants
From November 2011, the Louis Bolk Institute has been following the health of more than 30 families participating in the Bruistuin project. The objective is to assess, within a period of 18 months, whether working together in a community garden has an effect on the health of the participants. The results of this research are soon available. For more information please contact Lucy van de Vijver.