Community Gardening, Sustainability, and Resiliency: A Study of the Impression and Validity of Urban Farming in Austin, Texas and Detroit, Michigan

Defee, Karen Adriana
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Sustainability is rising in favor as cities incorporate livability into the urban fabric as a way to attract new residents, while other cities use sustainability as a way to achieve a certain level of happiness in a shrinking city. While it remains elusive, sustainability can be measured through a three-pronged approach containing elements of economic, social, and environmental success, otherwise known as the triple bottom line. I applied the triple bottom line to understand the underlying differences and similarities between urban gardening in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Both cities have had consistent success in the application and practice of gardening, but are facing different challenges as they carry on to their respective next level of urban development. I used the mixed methods of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), interviews with gardeners, and analysis of current practices to understand how gardens are being employed, and which aspects of sustainability are being met. Commonalities include low costs in starting gardens, support from non-governmental organizations, overall satisfaction among gardeners, abundant fresh foods, and lengthy applications. While differences include increased support from the municipal government in Austin, and higher levels of accessibility for minorities (financial and racial) in Detroit. For Detroit, gardening is used as a tool that helps feed residents and provide them with jobs; Austin is more likely to use them to attract the creative class and increase the quality of life in the city.

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Community, Gardens, Livability, Sustainability, Urban
Political Science and Geography