"Gardens, scholars say, are the first sign of commitment to a community. When people plant corn they are saying, let's stay here. And by their connection to the land, they are connected to one another." - Anne Raver

Gardens, gardeners, and community

Through summer 2018, I am continuing the PhD journey by working on a dissertation proposal that incorporates community gardens and community gardeners. While I have a bit of work to do on my research methodology, I know it will be as community-empowering as possible, as my research question remains centered around the phrase "food empowerment" and specifically what that looks, feels, and maybe even tastes like in community contexts.

There are tons of really bold, rich, and challenging ideas in the scholarly literature and around food justice, dignity, and sovereignty, local food and agriculture policy, community-based food systems, community gardening, and empowerment. The more I read, the more I am grateful for the community of published authors in this field, like Joshua Sbicca, Nathan McClintock, Claire Nettle, Heather Burns, Laura Lawson, Adam Pine, Charles Levkoe, Julian Agyeman, and others. (Some of their works are listed in my Resource Hub.) I'm also grateful for people in my own community of the Monadnock Region who are doing amazing things at the local scale, like The Community Kitchen's gleaning program, where volunteers harvest fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste from local farms, orchards, and gardens and get it to people who need it; the Westmoreland Garden Project, where students and volunteers practice restorative agriculture and food resilience; and a great many other people and projects, too many to list here. (Some of them are featured in my Cultivating Community service learning project.)

One idea that I hope to carry though my dissertation proposal and ultimately in my work as a scholar/practitioner after the PhD program is this: There is are no garden without a gardener; likewise, there is no community garden without community. However, the direction of causality is questionable.

What are your thoughts on researching community food empowerment? What examples of it can you share? Let's connect.