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About the project

What it is about

Gardens are very valuable for people and nature. They provide healthy vegetables; they are places to encounter nature and for recreation; and they provide essential habitats for plants and animals. Despite the increasing recognition of the social and ecological importance, and the considerable proportion of urban green spaces in the city area, there are still many gaps in our knowledge about urban gardens.

With the research project Better Gardens we want to explore how gardeners manage their gardens and which factors influence their decisions. Furthermore we want to investigate what effects different management practices have on soil quality, biodiversity and the quality of life of gardeners.

The study is being conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL. The project takes place from January 2015 to December 2017 in the three cities of Bern, Lausanne and Zurich.
BetterGardens is supported by the Swiss Family Gardens Association. The research project is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

How are we going to proceed?

In the project we will investigate three types of gardens: allotment gardens, private gardens and alternative garden forms (such as community gardens). The entire research project consists of four closely related sub-projects. In two subprojects, biologists will take soil samples in a total of 80 gardens in Zurich and investigate the biodiversity in the gardens. In the two other subprojects social scientists will interview gardeners and distribute questionnaires in the three project cities of Zurich, Bern and Lausanne. We would be delighted if you would take part!

What is the benefit of the project?

Many green areas in Swiss cities are vulnerable to densification. The research project aims to demonstrate the importance of gardens for people, the city and nature and to elaborate strategies to conserve, or even increase, the quality of the gardens. Thus, the project will also provide arguments for the conservation of urban green spaces and allotments. To ensure the relevance of the study and a better implementation of the results, policy makers and city governments will also be involved in the subprojects.


Robert Home, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture,  robert.home(at)fibl.org, Tel. +41 62 865 72 15