Growing Resistance: Community Gardens as Counter Spaces

Date
2022
Authors
Micek, Amanda
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Abstract

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps many away from public indoor spaces there is increase in both the number of and the interaction with community gardens. Thus, I argue that these spaces are becoming increasingly important for anthropological study because of their expansion and potential to create sociopolitical change. While various fields from geography to food studies have examined gardens in the context of food access, I will address gaps in the literature by studying the capacity of garden spaces to collectivize like-minded individuals and provide an alternative to capitalism. Drawing on my ethnographic research, I argue that community gardens, like Gardopia Gardens in San Antonio, function as anti-capitalist counter spaces (Lefebvre 1991). This designator is deserved as these spaces: challenge the urban/rural divide, help individuals become both increasingly self-sustaining and community oriented, provide an alternative food source to grocery chains and big agribusinesses, queer the student/ teacher dichotomy, value communal relationships through the practice of commoning, deny profit in favor of donations, and have the potential to change both individual and group mindset through educational practices. Within this discussion I also examine the motivation of unpaid volunteers and the importance of nonhuman actors to further argue that community gardens are anti-capitalist as they challenge capitalist notions of labor and the domination of more-than-humans. The aim of this research is to highlight these creative spaces and their productive capacity to create systemic change in the United States' food system.

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Keywords
community gardens, counter spaces, food apartheid, food justice, garden based learning, nonhuman actors
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Department
Anthropology