Date of Award

Winter 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Bruce E Lindsay


This research incorporates 'production of space' theory to explore how individual and societal characteristics influence community gardening practices and outcomes for individuals and neighborhoods in Havana, Cuba and Boston, Massachusetts. Methods used for this research include demographic analysis, interviews, surveys, field mapping, photo documentation and direct observation. The hope is that this research will bring to light certain policies and actions that will help ensure access to community garden space by diverse individuals. The following describes the main findings of this research.

In Boston, some neighborhoods experiencing rapidly escalating rents are also experiencing an outmigration of ethnic minorities, particularly Hispanic-Latinos and African Americans. As neighborhoods lose their ethnic diversity, so do the community gardens located in these neighborhoods. The consequence is that cultural gardening practices and traditions are lost for gardeners, and often times, for entire neighborhoods.

In Havana, Cuba, the growing of food in urban plots helped the country weather the crisis that resulted from the loss of food imports after the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the early 1990s, the number of gardens cultivated by individuals, families, and organized groups in Havana grew into the thousands due to a series of agricultural reforms enacted by the government. In spite, new indications suggest that the government is shifting its focus away from urban agricultural cooperatives towards private gardens.