Growing pains : dealing with excess demand and the conflicting benefits of community gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Author(s)Barriner, Lawrence, II
Dealing with excess demand and the conflicting benefits of community gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Community gardens are one of the most popular uses of vacant space in the United States; there are likely over 6,000 operating in the country today. Although only a tiny portion of the population has ever participated in one, people applaud them for a range of benefits including community connectedness, physical activity, entrepreneurship, food production, and improved urban environments; the list of perceived benefits is effectively endless. Unfortunately, no community garden has an infinite amount of space and therefore it's likely that every garden won't provide every benefit that is attributed to community gardens broadly. This possible tension between different benefits was the impetus for this client-based thesis project. By first analyzing the history of community gardens, I identify that certain benefits are primarily associated with a particular time period in community garden history. Then, I give an overview of these benefits as they are addressed in the community garden and urban agriculture literature, categorizing them under four themes: social, physical/health, economic, and environmental. After reviewing and analyzing the literature addressing the history and potential benefits of community gardens, I offer a categorical framework through which conflicts between the benefits can be viewed. Next, I describe my primary research, a potluck focus group of community gardeners in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and discuss my findings. All parts of my research coalesce into a set of recommendations for expanding and improving community gardening (and urban agricultural practices in general) in the city of Cambridge.
Thesis: M.C.P. and S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2014.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 69-77).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.