Publication Details

van Holstein, E. (2016). Transplanting, plotting, fencing: relational property practices in community gardens. Environment and Planning A, 48 (11), 2239-2255.


Community gardening is an increasingly popular phenomenon. Local governments wishing to 'green' the city and make the urban environment more 'inclusive' sometimes promote community gardening as a means to meet policy goals. Scholars from various fields have been keen to focus on these positive promises of community gardening. However, community gardens are not inherently different from their surroundings or good in themselves as they are connected to wider urban landscapes and routines through practice. Building on empirical research that I conducted at three community gardens in Sydney, Australia, I reveal how property is practised in three gardens with different property models, focussing on three practices - transplanting, plotting and fencing. I show that community gardeners produce property relationally and that through each of these practices, they create overlapping understandings of common and private property. Gardeners have contradictory motivations that are geared both towards community inclusion and the protection of personal interests. The paper reveals that while feelings of ownership contribute to a sense of community belonging, they also help legitimatise a defensive and exclusive spatial claim.

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