Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 39–53 | Cite as

Edible backyards: a qualitative study of household food growing and its contributions to food security

  • Robin Kortright
  • Sarah Wakefield


Food security is a fundamental element of community health. Informal house-lot food growing, by providing convenient access to diverse varieties of affordable and nutritious produce, can provide an important support for community food security. In this exploratory assessment of the contribution home food gardening makes to community food security, in-depth interviews were conducted with gardeners in two contrasting neighborhoods in Toronto, Canada. A typology of food gardeners was developed, and this qualitative understanding of residential food production was then assessed from a community food security perspective. It was found that growing food contributes to food security at all income levels by encouraging a more nutritious diet. The sustainability of household food sourcing and gardeners’ overall health and well-being also increased with food production. Secure access to suitable land to grow food and gardening skills were the most significant barriers found to residential food production.


Home gardening Household food production Urban agriculture Community food security 



We thank the participants in this study for sharing their experiences and opening their gardens to us. Our thanks also go to the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives for its generous financial support, and to Saron Ghebressellassie, the project research assistant, for her hard work and good company.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ontario Ministry of TransportationTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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