Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological SciencesRutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Gardening the Garden State


Integrating Re-Use of Abandoned Properties for Healthy Food Options in Trenton, New Jersey

This project is a partnership between the Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability (CUES) and Isles to examine redevelopment potential of properties in Trenton for food-related uses. It is organized into three phases: geographic information systems (GIS) modeling; field mapping of properties; and community surveys through questionnaires and focus groups. Please click here for more details. Please download our final report of this project.

National Community Gardening Survey

From 2011-2012, we conducted a survey of organizations involved in community gardening efforts. Some 445 organizations responded to the survey, representing over 8,000 community gardens in 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight Canadian provinces. Survey analysis is presented in a report published in the American Community Gardening Association's Greening Review, August 2013. Click here to access a preprint version of this paper.

New Jersey Community Garden Management

We have also been crossing the state of New Jersey and talking with community gardeners and garden coordinators about their experiences. We are finding that New Jersey has a diversity of community garden efforts, which is not surprising given the variety of urban and suburban landscapes found across the state. Among this diversity, however, there seem to be some common experiences and challenges. This research thus aims to uncover the ways that various community garden groups encounter and engage these challenges in their specific contexts, and to help connect these efforts in a way that improves community gardening statewide.

Building Gardens and Capacity with the Community Gardening Movement in New Brunswick

This project engages Rutgers Landscape Architecture faculty and students with New Brunswick community garden leaders and participants to jointly design and implement improvements to the Shiloh Community Garden, Jardin de Esperanza, and Archibald Community Garden. The grant supports research, participatory design, and implementation. Designs will address plant selection (including fruit trees at Shiloh), access, and implementation. A pre- and post- survey will assess attitudes regarding civic engagement, gardening knowledge, and the community-university partnership itself to support ongoing strategic planning.

Our Summer 2013 service-learning internship has been featured in the SEBS Newsroom.

Interns discussing site plans with market and garden staff

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  1. Drake, Luke, and Lawson, Laura. In press. Results of a U.S. and Canada community garden survey: Shared challenges in garden management amid diverse geographical and organizational contexts. Agriculture and Human Values
  2. Drake, Luke, and Lawson, Laura. In press. “Validating verdancy or vacancy? The relationship of community gardens and vacant lands in the U.S.” Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. Invited submission to special issue, “Vacant land: The new urban green”
  3. Lawson, Laura, and Drake, Luke. Expected publication spring 2015. “From Beets in the Bronx to Chard in Chicago: The Discourse and Practice of Growing Food in the American City.” In Food in the City. Edited by Dorothée Imbert. Washington D.C., Dumbarton Oaks.