Community Food Production as Food Security: Resource and Economic Valuation in Madison, Wisconsin (USA)


  • Vincent M. Smith Southern Oregon University
  • John A. Harrington University of Wisconsin



Community Food Production, Community Food Security, Community Gardening, Home Gardening, Urban Agriculture


Community food production (CFP) is emerging worldwide as a key component of programming designed to address community food insecurity. CFP resources in the form of home gardens, community gardens, and school gardens continue to gain wide support and attention. However, the market value of gardening and garden-based programs as well as how this market value correlates to food-insecure communities are not yet well understood.

This research explores, defines, and maps this value in the Madison, Wisconsin, Urban Area (USA). The extent of CFP, including both the total number of gardens and their overall area within the study, was measured and mapped through the use of a random sidewalk and roadside survey of 2,454 addresses and existing lists of area community and school gardens. The productive output of these gardens in terms of weight, gross and net market value, and caloric value was determined through test plots (n=36) tended by citizen scientists and used to estimate the absolute and relative contribution of CFP for the Madison Urban Area in terms of market value and caloric value. The work concludes with a discussion of the current and future role of CFP as a component of community food security efforts and the need to carefully assess intended objectives and attributed values.


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Author Biographies

Vincent M. Smith, Southern Oregon University

Departments of Environmental Studies and Sociology, Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, Oregon 97520 USA; +1-541-552-6802.

John A. Harrington, University of Wisconsin

Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 USA.



How to Cite

Smith, V. M., & Harrington, J. A. (2014). Community Food Production as Food Security: Resource and Economic Valuation in Madison, Wisconsin (USA). Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(2), 61–80.