"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

A snippet from my qualifying exam + upcoming activities

I recently passed my qualifying exam, a major milestone in the PhD journey and a significant moment as a researcher and writer. My next move is to finish drafting my dissertation proposal for review my advisor and second reader to review, and then bring a third outside reviewer on board. This is what I'll be working on this winter.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share my two concluding paragraphs (slightly edited) from the qualifying exam, along with some upcoming activities related to the work this week.

To appreciate community gardening as a reflection food justice and civic ecology requires a deeper look into the constituent terms, community and gardening. Each is rich and context-dependent, involving complex webs of interaction among people, patterns, and larger systems. Both are spaces where learning and action occur within spatial, temporal, and cultural boundaries, with processes of competition and cooperation creating the potential for interesting surprises and problems. In higher education contexts, community garden projects offer the capacity for practitioners and scholars to connect the immediacy of their own situations with larger food system change. Community gardeners are not only “producers of food, community and culture but also generators of hope, possibility and collective imagination” (Nettle, 2010). While other sites may also offer such opportunities to explore food justice and civic ecology, gardens hold particular meaning for those who see the "garden as environment, garden as community, garden as transformation" (Gaylie, 2009).
Scholars in these areas approach community gardening differently, with assumptions and arguments based in theory, contrasting in some respects and complementing in others. Using community garden projects in higher education contexts as one convergence point, this essay offers a framework to appreciate, apply, and challenge these approaches. Rooted in communiy, "learning in a garden… is to be in a constant state of environmental and social activism” (Gaylie, 2009). Enacting this learning in accord with the sociohistorical roots of food justice and civic ecology can “serve as a rich seedbed for social critique, knowledge creation, and social action” and thus create meaning from the “everyday experiences of struggle and oppression that intersect with the complexity of our food system politics.” (Niewolny & D’Adamo-Damery, 2014). Honoring the idea that “community remains the most important word in community garden,” (Winne, 2008) this scholarship suggests that the intersection of food justice and civic ecology scholarship in this context presents opportunities to ask new questions.

Upcoming activities:

December 5: 
December 6: 
December 7:

Interested? Let's connect.