Community Gardening in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona: Aligning Programs with Perceptions

  • Tommy Bleasdale Arizona State University
  • Carolyn Crouch Arizona State University
  • Sharon L. Harlan Arizona State University
Keywords: Community Garden, Community Food Initiative, Quality Of Life Plan, Urban Agriculture, Food Justice, Community Partnership, Food Desert

Abstract

This study examined a struggling community gardening program in a low-income minority community in Phoenix, Arizona. The gardening program exists within a larger local food initiative organized by a nonprofit community development organization. The nonprofit’s goals for the com­munity gardening program are to provide residents with opportunities for education, extra income and socializing. In partnership with the nonprofit and local residents, we undertook a study to determine the potential for increasing the recruitment and retention of local gardeners in order to sustain a successful community gardening program. We used interviews and participant observation to create an exploratory survey that measured residents’ percep­tions of benefits and burdens associated with gardening. Results revealed that while respondents had a level of gardening interest and experience in the commu­nity, they also lacked awareness about the garden­ing program. Perceptions of the benefits and burdens of gardening varied among current gardeners, ex-gardeners, and people who had never gardened. The benefits of gardening suggested by many residents differed from the local food initia­tive goals. If community gardens and local food initiatives are to succeed, organizers should align their programs with the desires of neighbor­hood residents and educate them about a wide range of potential benefits of gardening to both individuals and neighborhoods.

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Author Biographies

Tommy Bleasdale, Arizona State University
PhD student, Environmental Social Sciences Program, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 872402, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402 USA; +1 (480) 747-2280.
Carolyn Crouch, Arizona State University
Master of Arts in Sustainability, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University.
Sharon L. Harlan, Arizona State University
Associate Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 872402, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402 USA.
Published
2011-05-16
How to Cite
Bleasdale, T., Crouch, C., & Harlan, S. L. (2011). Community Gardening in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona: Aligning Programs with Perceptions. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(3), 99-114. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2011.013.007