Pandemic Gardening: Will home gardens create greater social and ecological resiliency in local food systems?

Authors: Courtney Gallaher*, Northern Illinois University, Kristen Borre, Northern Illinois University
Topics: Food Systems, Environment, Urban Geography
Keywords: gardening, urban agriculture, pandemic, covid-19, climate, resilience
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 22
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Our global food system is at a critical moment in history, as we contend with how best to feed a growing population while grappling with increasing disruptions due to the global coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis. Disruptions to our food system, whether speculative or real, were immediately apparent following global shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic with the result of an expansion of home gardening across the nation. The current pandemic gardening movement has spurred preliminary conversations about its potential to build a resilient local food system that can respond to longer term social and environmental crises. As people are actively engaging in home gardening we are examining their perceptions about how their home food production can create greater physical and social resiliency in our food systems. It also provides insight into how reconnecting people with the earth (literally, through the soil) can help to transform attitudes about the environment and values affecting consumption patterns. This project examines the ways in which gardening as a crisis response to the COVID-19 global pandemic can build social and economic infrastructures that can translate into longer term resiliency in our food systems. We use a mixed methods approach to address how gardening has been used as a pandemic crisis response, and about bridging lessons of resiliency in our local food systems with broader crises such as the climate crisis, by collecting and analyzing data from social media (twitter), an online survey, and semi-structured qualitative interviews with novice and experienced home gardeners.

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