There has been a resurgence of community gardening over the past decade with a wide range of actors seeking to get involved, from health agencies aiming to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to radical social movements searching for symbols of non-capitalist ways of relating and occupying space. Community gardens have become a focal point for local activism in which people are working to contribute to food security, question the erosion of public space, conserve and improve urban environments, develop technologies of sustainable food production, foster community engagement and create neighbourhood solidarity. Drawing on in-depth case studies and social movement theory, Claire Nettle provides a new empirical and theoretical understanding of community gardening as a site of collective social action. This provides not only a more nuanced and complete understanding of community gardening, but also highlights its potential challenges to notions of activism, community, democracy and culture.
Claire Nettle PhD is a community food systems researcher and consultant.
’By showing that community gardening is often a deeply political act this book offers a profound challenge to dominant accounts of social movement activism. Nettle shows that community gardening is more than a cultural challenge and does not mean a retreat from real politics, rather it is a specific form of prefigurative activism intended to build communities anew. It is essential reading for all those with an interest in a deeper understanding of the relationship between activist strategies and everyday life practices.’ Brian Doherty, Keele University, UK 'In this accessible read, Claire Nettle looks to provide a new understanding of community gardening by applying a contextual framework that considers the activity as a way for people to engage in collective social action. ... the book speaks to the broad themes of the collective use of public space, community engagement, and mutual support. In an era when more urban dwellers are turning their attention to these issues, post-recession, this work makes a timely and refreshing contribution.' LSE Review of Books 'A fascinating academic look at how, mainly but not exclusively in Australia, community gardening has in recent years grown (excuse the pun) and at the impact this has socially, beyond simply making public spaces look pretty. To my relief, the book firmly avoids slipping into familiar rose-tinted clichéd gush about the way that growing vegetables together changes lives and creates bonds, but instead stays detached and rational.' Historic Gardens Newsletter 'Nettle’s account of Australian community gardening makes a convincing case for acknowledging broader repertoires of political activism, and for more inclusive social movement theory. ... This book will be of interest to those seeking a fresh perspective on the topic of community gardens; it is a welcome and critical contribution to literature on this subject that contains much of international relevance.' People, Place and Policy