A wealth of research highlights the benefit of community gardens to urban health and well-being (Draper and Freedmanm 2010), social inclusion (Crossan et al., 2016), and food security (Garett and Leeds, 2015). Urban populations continue to experience multiple deprivation that is linked to spatial vulnerability and limited access to green space. The prevalence of derelict land (SMID, 2016), privatisation of public space (Smith, 2018), and the prioritisation of property-based regeneration (Shaw et al., 2018) that are common characteristics of deprived communities all serve to intensify spatial inequality.
We aim to examine transformative impacts of community garden networks and conceptualise mechanisms through which community-led gardens can empower communities to transform local food economies. In doing so, this research addresses calls for research on spatial vulnerability (Saatcioglu and Corus, 2016) that acknowledges the ways that consumer disadvantage can intensify due to geographical location. This resonates with our context and collaboration partner, Baltic Street Adventure Playground (BSAP), a third sector organisation that facilitates access to community green space in Dalmarnock – a community which belongs to 5% of the most deprived areas of Glasgow (SIMD, 2016).
Existing research identifies the positive outcomes of community gardens at the individual and community level. Limited research has examined the transformative impacts of these spaces to facilitate network building and social interaction across diverse groups within more deprived neighbourhoods. This research examines how multiple growing spaces can connect to create transformative networks of food provision for spatially vulnerable communities. It develops a network approach to engage with key third sector organisations, community groups and consumers to generate critical insights into the transformative potential of community garden networks. This research will work towards building impact for communities by developing insights to support the practical development of community governed growing spaces, which may help tackle food inequality for low-income communities.