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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Horticulture: Community Gardening & Food Justice

A collection of resources for students in horticulture.

Good Books: Community Gardening

Documentaries in Our Collection

Community & Urban Gardening

"Any piece of land gardened by a group of people."
- the community garden as defined by the American Community Garden Association.

According to the USDA, about 15% of the world's food is now grown in cities and urban settings.  Spaces for food growing include the rooftop, balcony, and the community garden.

Community gardens, especially, have received attention as a way to foster open-space initiatives in congested cities, reuse abandoned land, engage communal effort, teach nutrition, fight obesity, provide access to food to impoverished or under-served communities, and provide spaces for programming and community activities.

The boxes on this page lead to a wealth of resources about community gardens--how to build, maintain and advocate for them, as well as why they are important.

General Web Resources:

Zoning and Land Use Protections for Community Gardens

Whether the land a community garden resides on is owned by a private individual or by the municipality, there are legal policies community gardeners should know about in order to ensure the sustainability of their gardens.

Many cities have begun to see the value in community and urban gardens, and have put forth ordinances that put community gardens in their own zoning category.

(As an example, see here for the ordinance proposal Mayor Daly issued in late 2010 for the City of Chicago, and here for an explanation of that ordinance written by a professor of Environmental Studies at the New School.)

These resources can help community gardeners understand these policies better, and help plan for the sustainability of their own gardens.

Food Deserts

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, food deserts are "areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet."

This lack of access can be caused by a lack of grocery stores selling produce in the area, lack of convenient or frequent public transportation routes to produce sellers, and a lack of farmers' markets or community gardens in the area.

Current government data reveals the number of food deserts in the United States are many.  Advocates of community gardening and food justice see community gardens as a way to bring healthy foods to the communities living in these food deserts.

Food Access Research Atlas

Provided by the USDA Economic Research Service, this GIS (Geographic Information System) map gives a comprehensive view of food accessibility in the United States.

The full site can be found here; you can view more maps, and download their data for free.

Subject Guide

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Good Books: Food Justice