Seeds of Threat: Insecure Tenure and Governance in the Community Gardens of D.C. Open Access
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Community gardens have begun to increase in numbers in many highly urbanized areas across the United States. Community gardens are a form of urban green space that have many functions and can provide a plethora of benefits to its participants. While community gardens have proven to be very successful in urban areas, their success may be undermined by insecure land tenure. With the shift to governance and the adoption of neoliberal urban policies, community gardens may face foreclosure to free the land for economic development projects. Community gardens are public spaces, but legal access does not necessarily guarantee equal access for surrounding urban populations. Certain subsets of urban populations can experience unequal access to community gardens, both socially and spatially. This research employed a mixed methods approach to examining community gardens within the District of Columbia, including semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and spatial analysis. Issues of land tenure, management, community, and access were examined in three community gardens within the District of Columbia. This research has shown that the governance of community gardens can be messy, contributing to management issues. Additionally, the governance of these spaces affect who has access to these spaces. Access was found to be a multifaceted and complex issue, showing how community gardens can become spaces of exclusion. Finally, the gardeners interviewed did not agree upon the definition or existence of "community" within their community garden.