Sowing the Seeds: The cultivation of an urban environmental ethic through community gardens

Feder, Julia
Steve Chase
Department of Environmental Studies
Amidst the vast expansion of commerce, homogenization of culture, and urban sprawl that characterized the twentieth century, a close association developed between strong communities and a healthy environment. At the heart of many of these dynamic neighborhoods, sits a community garden. For many, this haven of greenery and flower blossoms is the confluence of people, history, wildness, and stewardship. As the populace calls for neighborhood revitalization and urban renewal, community gardeners are acting on their own demands. They not only beautify their neighborhood by participating in the garden, ; they paint their homes, pick up litter, and input development plans. As these gardeners pitch in to make their local environment a lively and safe place, they feel a connection to a global community whose policies and future in many ways is out of control. In these densely populated areas environment is defined by the natural systems that commingle with the human systems. This study looks at the relationship between community gardening and an increased awareness of the environment, both natural and human. It assesses the potential for community gardeners to act as stewards of the environment. This study shows that the primary function of a community garden, in terms of deepening an environmental ethic, is to provide opportunities for participants to extend their connection to their surroundings. It reveals that a strong global environmental begins with vibrant and healthy, local communities that are supported by active citizens.