Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 229–239 | Cite as

The nature of urban gardens: toward a political ecology of urban agriculture

  • Michael ClassensEmail author


With a few notable exceptions, urban garden scholarship tends to be either celebratory or critical of the role urban gardens play in wider political, social, cultural, economic and ecological dynamics. Drawing on urban political ecology scholarship, this article explores the question of nature within scholarship on urban gardens. I argue that failing to adequately scrutinize the co-constitutive character of nature and society has led some scholars to overlook the potential for urban gardens to achieve broader socio-political goals, and led others to overstate the potential. Employing a political ecology approach to urban garden analysis clarifies the material and discursive role of nature in urban garden practice, and ultimately contributes to untangling the potential and limits of urban gardens as sites of socio-political change.


Urban agriculture Community gardens Political ecology Socionature 



I’d like to thank Dr. Gerda Wekerle for providing feedback on an earlier version of this article. My deep gratitude also goes to Dr. Harvey James and four anonymous reviewers for their insightful, constructive and helpful comments. Any shortcomings of the piece remain mine alone.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental StudiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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