Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 241–254 | Cite as

Results of a US and Canada community garden survey: shared challenges in garden management amid diverse geographical and organizational contexts

  • Luke DrakeEmail author
  • Laura J. Lawson


Community gardens are of increasing interest to scholars, policymakers, and community organizations but there has been little systematic study of community garden management at a broad scale. This study complements case study research by revealing shared experiences of community garden management across different contexts. In partnership with the American Community Gardening Association, we developed an online questionnaire. Results from 445 community garden organizations across the US and Canada reveal common themes as well as differences that are particularly significant across different organizational sizes. The findings suggest that organizers see multiple benefits, and respondents confirmed recent expansion of gardening efforts. Analysis then focuses on challenges, which are closely related to garden management. We address garden losses as well as challenges to routine operation. Key challenges included funding, participation, land, and materials. We developed a typology based on organization size, to reveal distinctions between small organizations (serving 1 garden), medium-sized organizations (2–3 gardens), large organizations (4–30 gardens) and very large organizations (31 or more gardens). These categories shed light on different needs for funding, land, material, and participation. Together, this analysis suggests that community gardens can be linked through the work it takes to sustain them rather than specific causes or outcomes. Community gardens can be better integrated into local food systems through analysis of how people involved with this work navigate these shared processes.


Community gardening Urban agriculture Food systems Community participation Global north 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Department of Landscape ArchitectureRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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