Looking at community gardens through neoliberal lenses

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2009-01-01
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Ogawa, Tomoko
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Carmen Bain
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This thesis examines the practice of community gardening using neoliberalism as a theoretical tool. The word community gardening probably evokes positive images to many people. Images such as children digging up the soil or people gathering around a vegetable garden in the middle of a city cannot seem to be controversial. Community gardens, where people share a piece of land to produce food, are increasingly attracting interest. In addition to providing fresh vegetables and fruits or outdoor recreations, community gardens are often portrayed as an agent of social change to address issues related to food security, the environment, or community building. However, this thesis aims to identify possible neoliberal notions in the practice of community gardening. The interviews conducted with on-site leaders and outside supporters of community gardens in this case study revealed both the traits of neoliberalism and the resistance to it. While it is hard to deny the benefits that community gardening might realize for its participants, community gardening cannot replace safety net programs such as food stamps or school lunch programs that address food insecurity . I conclude that public policy should tackle fundamental issues of inequality, poverty and hunger because community gardens can only be part of the solution, if at all, for food insecurity among low-income households.

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Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009