Neighbourhood characteristics and urban gardens in the Toledo metropolitan area: staffing and voluntarism, food production, infrastructure, and sustainability practices

Dorceta Taylor and 1 other contributor

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    Urban gardens are important sources of sustenance for communities with limited access to food. Hence, this study focuses on food production in gardens in the Toledo metropolitan area in Northwest Ohio. We administered surveys to 150 garden managers from November 2014 to February 2015 in our attempt to better understand how neighbourhood racial composition and poverty levels are related to staffing and voluntarism, food production and distribution, the development of infrastructure, and the adoption of sustainability practices in urban gardens. The results from 30 gardens are presented in this paper. We used Geographic Information Systems to map the gardens and overlay the map with 2010 census data so that we could conduct demographic analyses of the neighbourhoods in which the gardens were located. Though the gardens were small - two acres or less - up to 46 varieties of food were grown in a single garden. Gardens also operated on small budgets. Food from the gardens was gifted or shared with friends, family, and neighbourhood residents. Gardens in predominantly minority neighbourhoods tended to have fewer institutional partners, less garden infrastructure, and had adopted fewer sustainable practices than gardens in predominantly White neighbourhoods. Nonetheless, residents of predominantly minority and high-poverty neighbourhoods participated in garden activities and influenced garden operations. Volunteering and staffing were racialised and gendered.