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«By Karen Schauwecker B.A., Beloit College, 2004 M.S., Southern Illinois University, 2015 A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the ...»

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Karen Schauwecker

B.A., Beloit College, 2004

M.S., Southern Illinois University, 2015

A Thesis

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the

Master of Science Degree

Department of Geography and Environmental Resources

In the Graduate School

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

August 2015




By Karen Schauwecker A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science In the field of Geography

Approved by:

Leslie Duram, Chair Jessica Crowe Julie Weinert Graduate School Southern Illinois University Carbondale June 9, 2015




KAREN SCHAUWECKER, for the Master of Science degree in GEOGRAPHY, presented on June 9, 2015, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.



MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Leslie Duram Using qualitative methods, interviews with garden leaders were conducted in order to better understand the motivations, challenges, and benefits of organizations and leaders of organized garden projects. This research expands the geographical diversity of community garden literature, examining a case study site in a small city surrounded by a more rural region.

Eleven projects were identified as currently active sites. All gardens sought to achieve a variety of goals, making each project a multifunctional site. Characteristics of each site were collected along with organizational structure to establish typologies and leadership style. In addition, the motivations, benefits, and challenges were compared to previous literature in an effort to account for geographic variability.



I would like to thank Roy, Laura, Steve, Jan, and Jen for supporting me during this entire process. They listened, gave council, and cooked me many delicious dinners to fuel this work.

Thank you for always believing in me and giving me strength to continue. I strive to take care of you all as good as you took care of me. I also want to thank my advisor, Leslie Duram, for working with me the past two years and giving me room to explore, navigate, and create my thesis project. I have learned so much and your dedication to sustainable agriculture is truly inspiring. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone at LOGIC and the SIUC Sustainable Vegetable Farm. Thank you, Sydney, Dania, April, Carly, and Marlee. I truly enjoyed working and learning along side each of you. I will look back on this time with nothing but the warmest memories.

–  –  –







1.1 Introduction

1.2 Purpose of Study and Justification

1.3 Background and Problem Statement

1.4 Research Questions


2.1 Overview

2.2 Definitions of Community Gardens

2.3 Typologies of Community Gardens

2.4 Themes in Community Garden Literature

2.4.1 Motivations

2.4.2 Benefits

2.4.3 Challenges

2.5 Research Methods in Community Garden Literature


–  –  –

3.2 A Case Study Approach

3.3 Study Site

3.3.1 Socio-Economic Demographics of Carbondale, IL

3.3.2 Historical Context of Agriculture in Southern Illinois

3.3.3 Local Health and Community Gardens as Intervention

3.4 Sample: Defining Community Gardens

3.5 Participant Selection and Requirements

3.6 Following IRB Procedures and Recruitment of Garden Leaders

3.7 Data Collection

3.7.1 Time Period of Data Collection

3.7.2 Interviews

3.7.3 Interview Questions

3.7.4 Self-Produced Materials as Data Source

3.7.5 Online Materials as Data Source

3.7.6 Face Sheets and Observation

3.8 Data Analysis: Transcription and Coding


4.1 Introduction to Results

4.2 Community Garden Types

4.3 Garden Focus

4.4 Garden Location

4.5 Gardens as Multifunctional Sites

–  –  –

4.7 Leader Demographics

4.8 Leadership Style

4.8.1 Teacher/Student Relationship

4.8.2 Leader/Manager/Allotment

4.8.3 Leader/Manager/Collective

4.8.4 Allotment with Rules/Regulations

4.8.5 Leader as Participant

4.9 Organizational Structure

4.10 Phases

4.11 Community Support

4.12 Collaboration

4.12.1 Within the Garden

4.12.2 Between Groups/Partnering

4.13 Growing Methods

4.14 A Sense of Place

4.15 Motivations

4.15.1 Gaining Skills

4.15.2 Self Sufficiency and Sharing

4.15.3 Service to Community

4.15.4 The Role of Mentors and Guidance for Garden Leaders

4.15.5 Human/Environment Connection

4.16 Benefits

–  –  –

4.16.2 Identity and Empowerment

4.16.3 Introduction to New Vegetables/Access to Healthy Foods

4.16.4 Getting Outdoors for Therapy and Recreation

4.16.5 Soil Fertility

4.17 Challenges

4.17.1 Participation

4.17.2 Funding

4.18 Comparisons to Community Garden Literature

4.18.1 Motivations

4.18.2 Benefits

4.18.3 Challenges

CHAPTER 5 – Discussion and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

5.2 Typology, Leadership, and Organizational Structure

5.3 Urban and Rural Comparisons

5.4 Themes

5.4.1 Motivations

5.4.2 Benefits

5.4.3 Challenges

5.5 Conclusion



–  –  –

Appendix B – Evergreen Terrace Garden Characteristics

Appendix C – Flyover Community Garden Characteristics

Appendix D – Gaia House Garden Characteristics

Appendix E – Grace Presbyterian Community Garden Characteristics

Appendix F – Kids Korner Garden Characteristics

Appendix G – Lewis School Garden Characteristics

Appendix H – LOGIC Garden Characteristics

Appendix I – Marion Street Community Garden Characteristics

Appendix J – Mustard Seed Sower’s Farm Garden Characteristics

Appendix K – Sufi Garden Characteristics

Appendix L – IRB Consent Form


–  –  –

Table 2.3: Garden Types Found in Literature

Table 4.2: Garden and Types in Carbondale, IL

Table 4.3 Garden Focus

Table 4.5: Activities Sponsored by Gardens and Organizations

Table 4.6 Age of Garden Projects as of April, 2015

Table 4.16.

5 Methods of Soil Fertility

Table 5.1 Summary of Motivations, Benefits, and Challenges

Table 5.2 Garden Type and Leadership

Table 5.3 Differences in Urban and Rural Study Sites

Table 5.4 Themes Found in Carbondale, IL

–  –  –

Figure 4.2 Map of Garden Location

Figure 4.16.

2 Sharing Knowledge Leads to Security and Empowerment

Figure 4.16.

5 Soil Fertility and Human/Environment Connection

Figure 4.17.

2 Interdependent Relationship Between Participation, Fundraising, and Land Loss/Garden Loss

4.18.3 Participation and Land Access Lead to Bridging Social Capital

–  –  –

1.1 Introduction Community gardens have been employed in various historical contexts as placebased strategies responding to specific socio-economic and demographic crises (Lawson, 2005). These projects are entrenched in both place and action. Community gardening has taken on a myriad of meanings subjective to those who participate, and that multiplicity of identity and purpose continues in projects to this day. Writers have documented distinct eras describing fluctuations in the aims and reach of community gardens as they respond to current socio-political contexts (Lawson, 2012). Although the current wave of garden projects are rooted in the urban renewal and community development practices of the 1970’s, the 19% spike in community gardens since 2009 has suggested a new generation of gardens known as recession gardens (Draper and Freedman, 2010). Even before 2008 economic recession, community gardens were growing in popularity (Pudup, 2008; Teig et. al 2009; Guitart et al., 2012). A survey conducted in 1996 by the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), estimated 6,000 total community gardens in the United States and 60% had been created in the previous decade. Other studies have estimated that by the mid 1990’s, over 1,000,000 individuals were involved in more than 15,000 organized community garden programs in the United States (Malakoff, 1995; Bicho, 1996 as cited in Saldivar-Tanaka & Krasny, 2014). The most recent national survey conducted by the ACGA shows growth continuing not only in the number of gardens, but also in the number of organizations participating in gardening projects (Lawson and Drake, 2012). Cities have responded to the growing interest with changes in local policy that allow for more agricultural activities, such as community gardens, in urban areas (Goldstein, 2012). The amount and breadth of academic literature on community gardening has also kept pace with interest and growth of gardening projects (Draper and Freedman, 2010; Guitart et al., 2012). Despite a plethora and diversity of literature on community gardens, there are still some gaps that exist. There is a need for researchers and practitioners alike to further develop and expand on ways to measure motivations, benefits, and challenges in geographically diverse settings (Draper and Freedman, 2010).

Building off of current themes and geographies, this research examined organized gardening projects in one small city in the rural region of Southern Illinois. Using qualitative methodology and data generated through open-ended interviews, materials, and observation, this study identified current community garden projects taking place during the research parameters. The goal of collecting physical and organizational characteristics was to enable classification and to document similarities and distinctive components of each initiative (Ferris, Norman and Sempik, 2001). Then, to compare motivations, challenges and benefits to those found in academic literature. However, what became most apparent throughout this study was the multi-functionality of these projects and the difficult nature of classifying gardening projects. It is important to articulate the potential and accomplishments of these projects, as they are often competing with other land uses and social services vying for limited resources (Schmelzkopf, 2002; Staeheli et al., 2003; Campbell and Salus, 2003). However, the true value lies precisely in this ability to serve multiple functions, both ecologically and culturally (Lovell, 2010).

1.2 Purpose of Study and Justification The purpose of this study was to systematically collect and document pertinent characteristics of gardening projects that exist in Carbondale, IL as suggested through previous literature. Through an examination of the motivations and perspectives of garden leaders, a better understanding emerged as to what these projects seek to achieve.

Although increasing food access and a decrease in food insecurity has been proven as a primary benefit (Blair et al., 1991), community gardens work as mechanisms for achieving other goals as well (See Literature Review). Once these goals are established, there is an opportunity to then move toward a more systematic outcomes-based measurement in which success can be estimated and defined (www.farmingconcrete.org).

Not only useful to practitioners, these measurements may also prove useful in catalyzing support from governments, financial institutions, recruiting participants, and establishing collaboration among other organizations working toward similar goals; All of which have been shown as integral aspects required for long-term success and sustainability (Millburn and Vail, 2010). The benefits of these grassroots efforts have been well established and documented in academic research. It is now time to incorporate these projects into planning and policies in a coordinated effort to maximize these multifunctional benefits (Lovell, 2010; Lawson, 2005).

The study sought to understand the processes that compel leaders to get involved or spearhead a community garden project. These are the motivations. This study aimed for an understanding of the lived benefits that leaders have felt from their involvement, referred to as benefits of the project. And lastly, this study revealed the challenges that inhibit garden projects in this particular context. Because of the place-based, site-specific nature of community gardens, the question of geography’s role in these aforementioned areas holds merit.

1.3 Background and Problem Statement Community garden research is plentiful in quantity and vast in subject matter, mirroring the many types of projects in practice (Draper, 2010; Guitart, 2012).

Community gardens are suggested as participatory actions relevant to a number of social movements; These include food system localization (Feenstra, 1997; Feagan, 2007;

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