Healthy Gardening

There are many benefits to growing your own fruits and vegetables. Gardening provides access to affordable, healthy, locally grown foods; more control over whether chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used; and the opportunity for exercise and a chance to connect with nature. Gardeners are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, which contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals and can reduce the risk of some types of cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Gardening in some places may also increase your exposure to chemical contaminants in the soil. Soils in cities, for example, often have higher levels of metals and other contaminants than undisturbed rural soils. Even outside the city, some places can have higher levels of contaminants - for example, soil near buildings with lead-based paint can be contaminated with lead, and old apple orchards may have higher levels of lead and arsenic from pesticides that were used until the mid-1960s.

Through research and communication, the New York State Health Department's Center for Environmental Health works to support gardeners so that they may enjoy the rewards of growing their own healthy food while minimizing risks from exposure to contaminants.

picture of a garden

You can find more information about healthy gardening on the following pages:

  • Tips for Gardeners

    Tips for New and Experienced Gardeners will teach you how to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables for healthier eating.

  • Community & Urban Gardening

    Community & Urban Gardening tells you about the benefits of joining a community garden and growing food in an urban setting.

  • Healthy Gardening Research

    Learn about Healthy Gardening Research being conducted by staff at the Center for Environmental Health. Our researchers are working to develop a better understanding of the risks and benefits associated with gardening.

  • Soil Screening & Outreach Events

    Read about Soil Screening & Outreach Events. These educational community events offer free soil screening for lead and raise awareness about lead exposure. Find out about events being planned for the future.

  • Soil Testing Resources

    Soil Testing Resources provides information about why and how to test your garden soil.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources from the Department of Health:

Contact Us

For more information about healthy gardening, contact the New York State Department of Health at (518) 402-7800 or email