Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Environmental Studies

Thesis Advisor

Andrea M. Feldpausch-Parker

Keywords

Community gardens, Gardening (religious aspects)

Abstract

Community gardens are a distinct and significant component of the current environmental movement especially in urban areas. However over time many of them suffer from insufficient support and/or neglect. This investigation will seek to discover specific techniques utilized in Faith-based (religiously affiliated) gardens which could be applied ubiquitously to any of the growing community gardens throughout the world to help make them more successful and sustainable. The research is guided by three questions: ( 1) What can be learned from faithbased community gardens? (2) Which aspects of religious institutions make them conducive to agricultural projects/ are religion and gardening naturally connected? (3) ls faith-based agriculture a unique environmental movement? To address these research questions, interviews were conducted with individuals associated and involved with faithbased community agriculture initiatives in New York City and Long Island, including members of the public and non-profits in the region. The data was collected in the form of hand-written notes and typed transcripts and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Based on the propensity of emergent themes in the interview transcripts, this study found that members highlighted a feeling of making a difference and performing some level of community service as a key component of most of the gardens. Community spirit was also revealed to be essential to garden sustainability. The learning curve was also highlighted as the greatest obstacle to maintaining a garden. However the extent to which environmentalism factors into community gardens is a topic that may warrant future study.

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