Cultivating change: Aspirations, realities and limits of community gardens in Windsor, Ontario

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Scholarship@Western: Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Paper 1756


community gardens, neoliberalism


This thesis, based on ethnographic research carried out in the summer and fall of 2012, focuses on three community gardens created post-2009 in the city of Windsor, Ontario, a time when the city faced serious economic and food security challenges. Specifically, this thesis investigates how the goals of community building, knowledge transmission, and food security are variously enacted at Windsor community gardens. Beyond illustrating the varied nature of community garden projects, the analysis presented draws attention to some of the factors that influence the success of individual gardens. The neoliberal context may frame garden projects but it does not fully contain them. These projects are not just about self-help and citizen responsibilitization but also about the empowerment of marginalized communities. They are not about market-oriented solutions to the problems of a de-industrializing city but rather represent an alternative, albeit modest, to the neoliberal status quo.