Where Are the Garden(er)s? Examining Gardener Motivations and Community Garden Participation-Sheds in Austin, Texas

  • Ronald R. HagelmanIIIEmail author
  • Gregory S. Mast
  • Colleen C. Hiner
Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 14)


Community gardens have received increasing attention from a wide range of academics, professionals, activists, hobbyists, students, and politicians as potential solutions to problems as diverse as food insecurity, childhood obesity, social fragmentation, economic instability, and declining biodiversity. Community gardens serve as sources of food and nutrition in addition to playing a role in cultural, political, economic, and ecological systems at multiple scales. As such, much work has been done to catalogue the benefits of community gardens to participants and society at large. However, less is known about how the benefits of community gardens translate into individual motivations to participate in community gardens or the relative strength of these motivating factors in terms of inspiring gardeners to overcome impediments to participation such as distance to access. Furthermore, although the inherently spatial focus of the discourse surrounding local food networks has led to efforts to map the food systems of both urban and rural areas at the state, census tract, and even neighborhood level, there is a deficit in research designed to visualize these patterns. Using a mixed methods approach, this article addresses these deficits in current research by assessing the motivations for participation among community gardeners and visualizing, using geographic information systems (GIS), the geographic participation-sheds of a sample of community gardens within the Austin, Texas, metropolitan area. The results of this inquiry inform scholarly discourses on the evolving role of community gardens within urban space. Moreover, through modeling the spatial patterns of community garden participation-sheds and characterizing the motivations of participating gardeners, this study serves as a guide to urban land managers as they seek to develop comprehensive and sustainable land management policies.


Urban gardens Sustainable agriculture 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald R. HagelmanIII
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gregory S. Mast
    • 2
  • Colleen C. Hiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Community ForesterAustinUSA

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