Publication Details

van Holstein, E. (2017). Relating to nature, food and community in community gardens. Local Environment: the international journal of justice and sustainability, 22 (10), 1159-1173.


This paper sheds critical light on the motivations and practices of community gardeners in relatively affluent neighbourhoods. The paper engages with community garden, alternative food and domestic garden literatures, to understand how people fit food production into their everyday lives, how they develop relationships to plants and how these in turn shape relations between people in a community group. The paper draws on participant observation and semi-structured walking interviews conducted at three community gardens in Sydney, Australia. The paper concludes that to fit community gardening into busy lives, people strategically choose plants with biophysical qualities that suit personal as well as communal circumstances and objectives. The paper shows how community is relationally constituted through the practices of growing and sharing food. Tensions might arise through the practices of growing food on communal and private plots and the taking and giving of food, but it can also encourage people to reflect on community food production and on their roles as individuals in a community group.



Link to publisher version (DOI)