People, land and sustainability: Community gardens
Urban green spaces and community gardens can be very positively linked to the implementation of Local Agenda and sustainability policies and at the same time used to promote environmental equity.
Ferris, J., Norman, C., & Sempik, J. (2001). People, land and sustainability: Community gardens and the social dimension of sustainable development. Social Policy & Administration, 35(5), 559-568.
Community gardens vary enormously in what they offer, according to local needs and circumstance. This article reports on research and experience from the USA. The context in which these findings are discussed is the implementation of Local Agenda and sustainable development policies. In particular, emphasis is given to exploring the social dimension of sustainable development policies by linking issues of health, education, community development and food security with the use of green space in towns and cities.
We contend that the concept of community gardens should be very broadly conceived to include many kinds of civic intervention with local governments and other public agencies acting in partnership with citizen groups of various kinds. What is now very evident is that the environmental issues discussed at the UN conference held in Rio de Janeiro are demanding common responses from local communities globally. Food security and access to open green space for recreation are by no means the least of these.
The article concludes that the use of urban open spaces for parks and gardens is closely associated with environmental justice and equity.
Many of the community gardens are in these places and it is the poor and people of colour who are exposed to the greatest environmental risks. The community garden movement in the USA is, in part, one of the positive responses in the struggle to restore these damaged neighbourhoods to ecological and social health.
The information presented here is mainly concerned with the USA and, in particular, focused on California. Nevertheless, the Nottingham Garden Conference demonstrated that these are global issues. The government has made it clear in their town planning policies that they expect new housing will be built on brownfield and inner-city sites. With the scarcity of urban land for new building there will be intense pressure on local government to develop on underutilized allotment sites. Higher urban densities might lead to a reduction in the amount of urban green space. This is precisely the issue in New York City where the City Council is claiming there is a shortage of land for housing and are closing community gardens.
This work states that urban green spaces and community gardens (allotments in Europe) can be very positively linked to the implementation of Local Agenda and sustainability policies and at the same time used to promote environmental equity. There is considerable evidence that poor and disadvantaged people not only suffer from low incomes but many also have to live in environmentally degraded environments that are threatened by polluting industry and the consequences of toxic waste dumping.
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