Urban Agriculture and City Farms and their role in Community Engagement
Research report from ‘Brisbane to Bogata’ website
By Christina Snowdon
Murdoch University Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
Urban Agriculture and City Farms and their Influence on Community Engagement is a study of the community aspects of urban gardening. The aim of this research was s to explore the roles that urban gardening play in community development and how urban agriculture can contribute to building community. This was achieved through site visits of community gardens and city farms in the United States and Australia, and site visits of urban agriculture farms in Cuba, during May to August 2010.
The research found that urban gardens can promote community, by providing people with opportunities to form connections and friendships with others. Gardens have the capability to promote cohesion in diverse communities and be inclusive toward marginalised individuals. The urban gardens visited were found to provide opportunities for engagement in democratic processes, providing fulfilment to individuals in a way that other areas of their lives were neglecting to provide. It was found that the motivators or reasons why people are driven to engage in urban gardens are varied. This research provided a clearer understanding of the broad personal and social ills that urban gardening can preempt. Additionally this research found that forming strong partnerships and investing in developing the leadership skills of community garden members is paramount to the success of urban gardens.
To create sustainable urban gardening programs this research recommends several overarching and site specific recommendations. Including the importance of forming partnerships with government and non- government agencies, developing and supporting cross sector collaborations that ensure that a decentralised planning process drives gardening programs. The research also recommends the importance of community capacity building, ensuring the that the garden is accessible and provides opportunities to form strong connections and that it is inclusive to a diverse range of people. Finally this research recommends that a sense of genuine empowerment and solidarity are fostered, highlighting that strong leadership is essential for ensuring sustainable urban garden programs.
This research contributes to the discourse of community garden research and develops a deeper understanding of key themes that can define whether a garden is successful, engaging, inclusive and sustainable. This research looks closely at the reasons gardens are successful, while analysing the pitfalls and problems as disclosed by the community gardener interviewees.
By providing case studies and interviews this research provides a clear framework that is useful in the planning and development of urban gardens.