Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 257–273 | Cite as

Is food a motivation for urban gardeners? Multifunctionality and the relative importance of the food function in urban collective gardens of Paris and Montreal

  • Jeanne Pourias
  • Christine Aubry
  • Eric Duchemin


In the cities of industrialized countries, the sudden keen interest in urban agriculture has resulted, inter alia, in the growth of the number and diversity of urban collective gardens. While the multifunctionality of collective gardens is well known, individual gardeners’ motivations have still not been thoroughly investigated. The aim of this article is to explore the role, for the gardeners, of the food function as one of the functions of gardens, and to establish whether and how this function is a motivating factor for them. We draw on a set of data from semi-structured interviews with 39 gardeners in 12 collective gardens in Paris and Montreal, as well as from a survey on 98 gardeners and from field observations of the gardeners’ practices. In the first part we present the nature and diversity of garden produce, and the gardeners’ assessment thereof. In the second part we describe the seven other functions mentioned by the gardeners, which enables us to situate the food function in relation to them. We conclude that the food function is the most significant function of the gardens, and discuss the implications for practitioners and policy makers.


Collective gardening Urban agriculture Multifunctionality Food function 



We thank Anne-Cécile Daniel, Sophie Le Paul, Juliette Jego and Fred Rochon for helping conduct surveys with gardeners. Thanks to Genevieve Metson and Evelyne Boissonneault for helping distributing the questionnaire to gardeners. Many thanks to all Parisian and Montreal gardeners who spent time answering our questions and completing our booklets. This research was carried out in the framework of a doctoral thesis funded by the DIM ASTREA, a research program of the Ile-de-France Region.


  1. Airriess, C.A., and D.L. Clawson. 1994. Vietnamese market gardens in New Orleans. Geographical Review 84(1): 16–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aubry, C., and J. Pourias. 2013. L’agriculture urbaine fait déjà partie du « métabolisme urbain » . In Nature et Agriculture pour la Ville, Les nouveaux désirs des citadins s’imposent. Ed. Déméter, 135–155. Paris, France: Club Déméter. Accessed 11 Mar 2015.
  3. Barrault, J. 2009. Responsabilité et environnement: questionner l’usage amateur des pesticides. VertigOLa Revue Electronique en Sciences de l’Environnement (Hors série 6). Accessed 11 Mar 2015.
  4. Barrault, J. 2012. Les pratiques de jardinage face aux risques sanitaires et environnementaux des pesticides: les approches différenciées de la France et du Québec. Montréal: Université du Québec à Montréal et Université Toulouse le Mirail-Toulouse II. Accessed 11 Mar 2015.
  5. Basset, F., L. Baudelet, and A.L. Roy. 2008. Jardins partagés: Utopie, écologie, conseils pratiques. Mens: Terre Vivante Editions.Google Scholar
  6. Bouvier-Daclon, N., and G. Sénécal. 2001. Les jardins communautaires de Montréal: Un espace social ambigu. Loisir et société/Society and Leisure 24(2): 507–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bressoud, F., and L. Parès. 2009. Comment construire des références pour une production de légumes reterritorialisée? PSDR Coxinel. Accessed 11 Mar 2015.
  8. Centraide. (2013). Collective gardens. Centraide Montreal. Accessed 27 Feb 2014.
  9. Cérézuelle, D., and G. Roustang. 2010. L’autoproduction accompagnée, un levier de changement. Ramonville-Saint-Agne: Erès.Google Scholar
  10. Collective. 2014. Recettes à partager des jardins partagés parisiens. Paris: Editions du Potager.Google Scholar
  11. D’Abundo, M.L., and A.M. Carden. 2008. “Growing wellness”: The possibility of promoting collective wellness through community garden education programs. Community Development 39: 83–94. doi: 10.1080/15575330809489660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Demailly, K.-E. 2014. Les jardins partagés franciliens, scènes de participation citoyenne? EchoGéo, 27. Accessed 27 Feb 2014.
  13. Draper, C., and D. Freedman. 2010. Review and analysis of the benefits, purposes, and motivations associated with community gardening in the United States. Journal of Community Practice 18(4): 458–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dubost, F. 1997. Les jardins ordinaires. Paris: L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
  15. Duchemin, E. 2013. Multifonctionnalité de l’agriculture urbaine; perspective de chercheurs et de jardiniers. In Agriculture urbaine: aménager et nourrir la ville, ed. E. Duchemin, 95–107. Montréal: VertigO.Google Scholar
  16. Duchemin, E., F. Wegmuller, and A.M. Legault. 2008. Urban agriculture: multi-dimensional tools for social development in poor neighborghoods. Field Actions Science Reports. The Journal of Field Actions, 1. Accessed 27 Feb 2014.
  17. Duchemin, E., F. Wegmuller, and A.M. Legault. 2010. Agriculture urbaine: un outil multidimensionnel pour le développement des quartiers. VertigOLa Revue Electronique en Sciences de l’Environnement, 10(2). Accessed 11 Mar 2014.
  18. Evers, A., and N.L. Hodgson. 2011. Food choices and local food access among Perth’s community gardeners. Local Environment 16(6): 585–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gittleman, M., K. Jordan, and E. Brelsford. 2012. Using citizen science to quantify community garden crop yields. Cities and the Environment, 5(1): article 4. Accessed 11 Mar 2015.
  20. Gojard, S., and F. Weber. 1995. Jardins, jardinage et autoconsommation alimentaire. INRA Sciences Sociales, (2): 1–4. Accessed 11 Mar 2015.
  21. Gorgolewski, M., J. Komisar, and J. Nasr. 2011. Carrot City: creating places for urban agriculture. New York, NY: Monacelli Press.Google Scholar
  22. Huang, J., M. Tichit, M. Poulot, S. Darly, S. Li, C. Petit, and C. Aubry. 2015. Comparative review of multifunctionality and ecosystem services in sustainable agriculture. Journal of Environmental Management 149: 138–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Insee, comptes nationaux. 2013. Dépenses culturelles et de loisirs en 2013. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.
  24. Kaufman, J.L., and M. Bailkey. 2000. Farming inside cities: Entrepreneurial urban agriculture in the United States. Lincolnd, NE: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.
  25. Lawson, L. 2005. City Bountiful: A century of community gardening in the United States. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  26. Legault, A.M. 2010. Le jardin collectif urbain: Un projet éducatif holistique et fondamentalement politique. Education Relative à l’Environnement, 9: 181–202. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.
  27. McClintock, N. 2010. Why farm the city? Theorizing urban agriculture through a lens of metabolic rift. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 3(2): 191–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ohmer, M.L., P. Meadowcroft, K. Freed, and E. Lewis. 2009. Community gardening and community development: Individual, social and community benefits of a community conservation program. Journal of Community Practice 17(4): 377–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Poulsen, M., and M.L. Spiker. 2014. Integrating Urban Farms into the Social Landscape of Cities: Recommendations for Strengthening the Relationship between Urban Farms and Local Communities. Baltimore, MD: Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.
  30. Pourias, J., E. Duchemin, and C. Aubry. 2015. Products from urban collective gardens: food for thought or for consumption? Insights from Paris and Montreal. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development 5(2): 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pouw, M., and J. Wilbers. 2005. Urban Agriculture in the Netherlands: Multifunctionality as an organisational strategy. Urban Agriculture Magazine (RUAF), (15): 32–33. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.
  32. Roux, M.-A. 2009. Jardin ou terrasse, la cinquième pièce à vivre de la maison. M le Magazine du Monde. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.
  33. Saint-Hilaire-Gravel, P. 2013. Les jardins communautaires montréalais: une histoire riche d’apprentissage. In Agriculture urbaine: aménager et nourrir la ville, ed. E. Duchemin, 95–107. Montréal: VertigO.Google Scholar
  34. Saldivar-Tanaka, L., and M.E. Krasny. 2003. Culturing community development, neighborhood open space, and civic agriculture: The case of Latino community gardens in New York City. Agriculture and Human Values 21(4): 399–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Smith, V., and J. Harrington. 2014. Community food production as food security: Resource and economic valuation in Madison, Wisconsin (USA). Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development 4(2): 61–80.Google Scholar
  36. Taylor, J.R., and S.T. Lovell. 2012. Mapping public and private spaces of urban agriculture in Chicago through the analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth. Landscape and Urban Planning 108(1): 57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Weber, F. 1996. Réduire ses dépenses, ne pas compter son temps. Comment mesurer l’économie domestique? Genèses 25: 5–28. doi: 10.3406/genes.1996.1413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Weber, F. 1998. L’honneur des jardiniers: les potagers dans la France du XXe siècle. Paris: Belin.Google Scholar
  39. Wegmuller, F. 2010. Agriculture urbaine pour un développement durable par les jardins communautaires à montréal: ultifonctionnalité, système organisationnel et dynamique des acteurs (thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Maîtrise en sciences de l’environnement). Montréal, Canada: UQAM. Accessed 9 Mar 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne Pourias
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christine Aubry
    • 1
  • Eric Duchemin
    • 2
  1. 1.UMR SAD-APT AgroParisTech/INRAParis cedex 05France
  2. 2.Institut des sciences de l’environnementUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations