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Reviewing University Community Gardens for Sustainability: Taking stock, comparisons with urban community gardens, and mapping research opportunities

Robinson, Z; Laycock, R


R Laycock


Community gardens (CGs) in university settings are faced with challenges associated with a transient and inexperienced population of student gardeners, but they also have the potential to have a lasting impact on the food behaviours of many young people. This paper undertakes a systematic critical review of literature about University Community Gardens for Sustainability (UCGS) in order to suggest directions of future research in the emerging field research about CGs within and outside of universities. The literature shows that UCGS have similar benefits to those identified in urban CG literature; but with greater emphasis on both the educational and environmental sustainability benefits, suggesting an under-used potential of CGs in these areas. We argue that a better understanding of the particular challenges and benefits of UCGS could improve outcomes of CGs in all settings. Therefore we recommend that future should explore: (1) participant transience in CGs, thereby helping sustainability projects with large volunteer bases learn to cope with challenges this poses in order to maximise the garden’s impacts; (2) whether/how participating in CGs can contribute to changes in attitudes/behaviours with regards to sustainability and be used as a tool for Education for Sustainability in and outside of university settings and (3) failed cases of CGs to genuinely understand factors that contribute to success. By addressing these areas we can improve our understanding of how community gardening can contribute to our communities, universities and environment, and can begin to make these potential contributions a reality.

Acceptance Date Apr 5, 2018
Publication Date Apr 17, 2018
Journal Local Environment
Print ISSN 1354-9839
Publisher Routledge
Keywords education for sustainability, failure, higher education, transience, volunteers, urban agriculture
Publisher URL