Growing an urban oasis: A qualitative study of the perceived benefits of community gardening in baltimore, maryland

Melissa N. Poulsen, Kristyna R.S. Hulland, Carolyn A. Gulas, Hieu Pham, Sarah L. Dalglish, Rebecca K. Wilkinson, Peter J. Winch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Community gardening is lauded as an urban planning tool to enhance local food systems while improving degraded urban environments. To understand how best to expand community gardening participation, this study explores the perceived benefits of community gardening in Baltimore, Maryland. In-depth interviews and focused group interviews with community gardeners revealed that gardens provide benefits at multiple levels, creating an "urban oasis" that provides refuge from urban decay while revitalizing city neighborhoods. At the individual level, gardeners underscored psychological benefits, including pride and a connection with nature. At the neighborhood level, gardeners developed trusting relationships with their neighbors and shared learning experiences. At the community level, gardeners perceived that gardens reclaim city space by cleaning up degraded lots, creating gathering places, and improving the food environment. The variety of perceived benefits that gardens provide to individuals and their communities should be promoted as a tool for developing healthy urban environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Agriculture, Food and Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Community gardens
  • Food access
  • Grounded theory
  • Qualitative methods
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban revitalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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