PhD: Everyday community food gardening and the contribution to Urban agriculture

Plaistow
Lansbury Estate
Haberdasher Estate
Haberdasher estate, north London

I completed my PhD entitled “Everyday community food gardening and its contribution to Urban agriculture” at the University of Brighton, in the school of Architecture and design. My supervisors where Andre Viljoen and Andrew Church.

Please contact me for a PDF copy of the thesis. (mikeytomkins at gmail dot com)

Below is a copy of the abstract and some example images of the gardens researched.

Abstract

This thesis presents research on community food gardens as an example of urban agriculture. It aims to provide evidence on the factors that influence their ability to produce food. Drawing on participant observation methods, and interviews with community food gardeners, on six London housing estates in 2010, this thesis explores the everyday community food garden practices of residents. It explores the factors that influence food growing, from discourse, everyday practice, and spatial interactions of those who garden. Key results show that the process of transforming, constructing, and inhabiting material space occupies residents’ time, leading to a reduced emphasis on food production. The research concludes that food harvests as an edible outcome are only sought in quantities relative to confirming the embodied situation of social practices, a key aspect of which is the need to gain spatial sovereignty over the estates’ landscape.

This thesis, therefore, concludes that these community food gardens play a minor role within urban agriculture, where an agricultural accent seeks a consolidated harvest in order to feed cities.  However, they do contribute to residents’ sense of dwelling through cultivation, creativity, and community, arguably a major contribution in our understanding of urban agriculture where accessing space is a precursor and barrier to growing food in cities.