Culturing community development, neighborhood open space, and civic agriculture: The case of Latino community gardens in New York City

Abstract

To determine the role Latino community gardens play in community development, open space, and civic agriculture, we conducted interviews with 32 community gardeners from 20 gardens, and with staff from 11 community gardening support non-profit organizations and government agencies. We also conducted observations in the gardens, and reviewed documents written by the gardeners and staff from 13 support organizations and agencies. In addition to being sites for production of conventional and ethnic vegetables and herbs, the gardens host numerous social, educational, and cultural events, including neighborhood and church gatherings, holiday parties, children’s activities, school tours, concerts, health fairs, and voter registration drives. In some cases, the gardens also serve to promote community activism. The primary concern of gardeners is to secure land tenure in the face of pressures to develop the garden sites for housing. The support organizations and agencies provide help with land tenure, as well as with advocacy, organization, and horticultural practices. Although the role of the Latino gardens in community development appears to be more important than their role in open space or agricultural production, the gardens can also be viewed as unique “participatory landscapes” that combine aspects of all three movements, as well as provide a connection between immigrants and their cultural heritage.

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Abbreviations

GIS:

Geographic Information Systems

NYC:

New York City

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Correspondence to Marianne E. Krasny.

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Saldivar-tanaka, L., Krasny, M.E. Culturing community development, neighborhood open space, and civic agriculture: The case of Latino community gardens in New York City. Agric Hum Values 21, 399–412 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-003-1248-9

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Keywords

  • Civic agriculture
  • Community development
  • Community gardens
  • Latino gardens
  • Open space
  • Urban agriculture