Warranting the Need for Community Gardens: Improving Food Security and Community Health in Urban Areas
Since the late 20th century, densely populated urban areas expanded with a rapid increase of the human population, causing stress to existing food resources. Currently, cities struggle with availability and accessibility of fresh food, with residents in marginalized, low-income communities at the greatest disadvantage. Research suggests that community gardens are able to help combat the inequity of food security and associated health concerns, but that quality gardens are typically distributed within communities of higher incomes. Arguing that community gardens should be implemented in areas where the need is warranted, specifically, urban, low-income communities, this capstone explains how they can aid in developing nutritional knowledge and provide ease of access to fresh food, serving as a catalyst for healthier lifestyles. The lives of community members in low-income urban areas, cannot simply be immediately changed by introducing a community garden to the vicinity in which they live. Rather, community members, viewed as learners, must be active participants in their own health decisions and food consumption. Additionally, it is beneficial to co-create spaces for community garden work with urban planners and a consideration for whom the garden will serve. This first section of the capstone addresses the history of community gardens and the problems of inequality that communities currently face. More specifically, it demonstrates how privileged residents use gardening as a hobby while the need is actually warranted in marginalized neighborhoods. The second section defines the benefits of community gardening and how they can influence food-insecurity issues and health concerns. The third section describes the implementation of urban community gardens and how and where they can be most successful. Finally, I discuss the limitations and future considerations of urban gardening, particularly recognizing that although community gardens provide a variety of benefits, they cannot serve as a panacea for all community concerns.