Making Community Gardens Thrive: A Systematic Study of Factors Affecting the Development of Community Gardens in Greater Victoria

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Ip, Sit Kei
School of environment and sustainability
Community gardens around the world are increasingly recognized by the governments and the public for their socio-cultural and ecological benefits. They face a broad range of challenges, including land access, volunteer management, resources, and funding. By adopting the framework of agency and social capital, my research examines how community garden organizers in Greater Victoria overcome these challenges in establishing and sustaining community gardens. I conducted semi-structured interviews with fifteen research participants including community garden organizers, government officials, volunteers, and gardeners. The result shows that local community gardens mostly adopt informal structures and non-bureaucratic governance which renders them vulnerable to challenges during its establishment and development. While many community garden organizers are rich in social capital, it is found that individual agency is necessary throughout the process. The study also finds that the type of organizers’ motivation, quality of teamwork, and community support are the three main components conducive to community garden’s continuous development while succession planning and burnout are significant challenges to community garden organizers but rarely explored in the literature. The research result is not only applicable to community gardens, but also sheds light on how to support similar volunteer-led community initiatives.
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