A Growing Movement: Motivations for Joining Community Gardens
Community gardens play an important role in building urban resilience through improving food security and by increasing neighbourhood social capital. As community gardens become more popular in many countries, understanding what motivates people to join them and stay involved is therefore worth researching. This paper explores the key motivations of community gardeners using data from interviews conducted with people involved in a range of community gardens on the east coast of Australia (including Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sydney) as well as two locations in Denmark (Copenhagen and Odense). Our analysis synthesised three main categories of motivation which are broadly described as “individual”, “community” and “gardening”. Individual motivations included: a retirement activity; educating one’s own children about growing and eating good food; access to organic produce; alternative to supermarket food; and personal learning, enjoyment and satisfaction. Community motivations included: civic action; a way to meet people when new to the neighbourhood; growing food for charities; teaching children to interact with the community; and community-based social activity. Gardening motivations included: being outdoors; enjoying nature; access to earth; and growing food plants. While community gardening is often cited as a sustainable activity, the environment only emerged once as a key focus in relation to organic food production. Interestingly, there was still evidence of sustainable practices such as community composting and pesticide-free growing across all sites. The range of motivations show that the gardens go some way towards improving the quality of life in urban environments through providing intergenerational social interactions which are enjoyable, increasing local social capital and inadvertently improving local food security and sustainability.
9th International Conference on Sustainable Development & Planning