Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gallaher, Courtney M.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Geography


Geography; Agriculture; Social structure; Urban planning; Community gardens--Illinois--Rockford; Food sovereignty--Illinois--Rockford; Food security--Illinois--Rockford; Urban agriculture--Illinois--Rockford


Urban agriculture projects seek to ameliorate issues of food access and food sovereignty for people living in areas with low access to fresh foods, including food deserts. Within this discourse, community gardens have been promoted as vehicles to reclaim unused urban space, produce food locally, and connect populations to their food sources and larger community. A variety of community garden models exist, and the efficacy of different models is the subject of some debate. In Rockford, many community gardens grow food for donation to food pantries as part of a program to benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged persons in the city. However, the ability of these gardens to involve neighborhood participants and provide the social capital-related benefits attributed to community gardens in the literature is uncertain. Here we examine community gardens in Rockford, IL to assess the extent to which they contribute to residents' ability to obtain fresh produce as well as other social benefits. Data for this project comes from a combination of interviews with gardeners, focus groups with food pantry users, and a survey of food pantry users. We find that while non-gardening community members are benefitting from the increased produce that the gardens provide, they are not receiving all of the social and communal benefits associated with actively participating in a garden.


Advisors: Courtney M. Gallaher.||Committee members: Thomas J. Pingel; Jim Wilson.


78 pages




Northern Illinois University

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