Assessing the impact of community garden design on food security and food sovereignty

Authors: Courtney Gallaher*, Northern Illinois University, Kristen Borre, Northern Illinois University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban agriculture, community gardens, food security, food sovereignty
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Community gardening has regained importance as one way in which to ameliorate issues of food insecurity and food access, especially in communities disadvantaged in terms of access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. A nationwide trend towards establishing community gardens is evidenced by the now approximately 18,000 community gardens found throughout North America. Yet, the efficacy of these types of garden projects is understudied and it remains to be seen how effectively they can affect the core issues of food security and food sovereignty. Community garden projects frequently take the form of two specific models; 1) allotment gardens, which allocate individual plots of land to community members for the gardening seasons, and 2) communal growing spaces used to produce food for populations not directly involved in the garden, usually by donating garden food to a local food pantry. This second model typically focuses on getting fresh food into the hands of food insecure food pantry users. Our research evaluated a donation-model community garden project in DeKalb, IL that partners with several local food pantries in the area. We draw on interviews with food pantry staff and clients, community garden volunteers, and surveys of food pantry clients to understand the effectiveness of donation-model gardens in distributing food in the community, impacts on food security, and local perceptions of food sovereignty related to the presence of community gardens.

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