Central Iowa kitchen gardens: the theory and practice of sustainable household food production

Thumbnail Image
Martin, William
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Landscape Architecture
Landscape Architecture is an environmental design discipline. Landscape architects actively shape the human environment: they map, interpret, imagine, draw, build, conceptualize, synthesize, and project ideas that transform landscapes. The design process involves creative expression that derives from an understanding of the context of site (or landscape) ecosystems, cultural frameworks, functional systems, and social dynamics. Students in our program learn to change the world around them by re-imagining and re-shaping the landscape to enhance its aesthetic and functional dimensions, ecological health, cultural significance, and social relevance. The Department of Landscape Architecture was established as a department in the Division of Agriculture in 1929. In 1975, the department's name was changed to the Department of Landscape Architecture and Community Planning. In 1978, community planning was spun off from the department, and the Department of Landscape Architecture became part of the newly established College of Design. Dates of Existence: 1929–present
Journal Issue
Is Version Of

This study examines how household gardeners contributed foodstuffs from their kitchen gardens - and landscapes - to a hypothetically constructed local food system comprised of Boone and Story counties in central Iowa; and if gardeners grow foods using landscape and horticultural techniques and materials that are consistent with the goals of sustainable local food systems. Information used in this study was collected through a survey of convenience approach consisting of a 40-question survey distributed to gardening households in these two counties through canvassing on 19 separate occasions and other encounters with gardeners at various events in the central Iowa area. While the frame of reference for most study participants was organic gardening, not sustainability, the study showed that most of the self-identified organic gardeners grew foodstuffs in ways that were either neutral or consistent with the goals of sustainable food production as defined by this study. Conversely, gardeners who did not identify themselves as organic gardeners tended to have neutral or negative scores when it came to sustainable design and gardening practices. Overall, only 22 percent of the study sample garden in ways that are consistent with the sustainable dimensions proposed by local food system advocates - characterized by low levels of chemical/synthetic pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer use; high levels of composting and compost use; practices that conserve and protect water and genetic diversity, and high levels of participation in the hypothetical local food system. Regardless of perspective and beyond immediate and long-term use within the household, the vast majority of survey informants contributed to the hypothetical local food system through gifts to friends, neighbors, associates, and co-workers; bartering for goods and services; selling; and donating to food banks and other charitable organizations. Models of groups working to develop sustainable, local food production can provide useful frames for developing similar networks of sustainable food production advocates that includes the home gardener in central Iowa.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2006