Master of Arts
This thesis examines the efforts of the Local Community Food Center in Stratford, Ontario and the Women’s Rural Resource Center in Strathroy, Ontario to establish community gardening programs. The research centers on qualitative interviews with 9 key informants and 16 participants conducted from June to August of 2019, as well as participant observation in the gardens and the day-to-day operations of the institutions. The primary aim of this research was to understand how relationships between food banks, food centers, and community gardens function, and how community gardens can affect the food choices of regular users of food banks and food centers. It also explores the motivations for establishing and joining the community gardens, how participants view food from the community gardens, and why some participants are more engaged in community gardening than others. The analysis also considers the perceived health benefits of engagement in community gardens, as well as some of the limitations of community gardens for the organizations, garden participants, and food bank and food center users. A central conclusion is that while the volume of production from community gardens is not at a scale that can have significant impacts on the food security of participants, there are some significant positive individual and communal health benefits that are worthy of attention and suggest reasons why food banks and food centers should consider building these relationships wherever possible.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis studied the efforts of the Local Community Food Center, which is a food center that offers cooking classes, gardening workshops, and an affordable produce market for members of the Stratford, Ontario community, and the Women’s Rural Resource Center, which is a women’s shelter that includes a food bank and a community garden for women in Strathroy, Ontario, to establish community gardening programs. The research centers on qualitative interviews with 9 key informants (which involve directors of the food banks, food centers, and community gardens) and 16 participants (which include users of the food banks, food centers, and community gardens) conducted from June to August of 2019. Qualitative interviews were best suited for this study because they could provide an in-depth understanding of the views, experiences, and motivations behind the community gardening initiatives at each case study site, as well as participant observation, which involves spending a significant amount of time at case study sites and engaging in activities with participants to understand day-to-day operations and build rapport with participants. The general aim of this research was to understand why community gardens at each case study site were established, why some participants are more engaged in gardening than others, and how active garden participants perceived the mental and physical health benefits of community gardening.
Phillips, Sydney, "Can Community Gardens Improve Food Banks and Food Centers? Lessons from two Southwestern Ontario cases" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7021.