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Growing together: an ethnography of community gardening as place making

Pitt, Hannah 2013. Growing together: an ethnography of community gardening as place making. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This research examines relationships between people and place at three community gardens in Wales by studying processes of place making. Ethnographic methods explored gardeners’ feelings, doings, and interactions with nonhumans to bring a critical perspective to the study of community gardens which better reflects their complexity and vitality. By expanding the range of gardens researched I show that urban and rural community gardens are not categorically distinct, challenging the narrative that city dwellers seek community gardens to reconnect with people and nature. The opportunity to feel good motivates participation but achieving this depends on the degree of control available to gardeners which varies with how a garden is made. I contribute to relational theories of place an empirically grounded discussion which brings them into dialogue with notions of community, arguing that places are not wholly unpredictable as spatial processes can be deliberately directed and interact with feelings. Where Massey suggests places thrown together (2005) I propose a theory of place making as bringing movements together, guided by skill and feelings as we work to achieve goals and pull towards those we have affinity with. I demonstrate how a more dynamic sense of place can be conceived through attention to qualities of motion as the appreciation of a place’s particular constellation of movements and feeling comfortable moving with these rhythms. The case studies show that people find comfort in feeling they belong somewhere but this is a dynamic sense of belonging as moving with others. Garden communities are not determined in place but form through making place, sharing experiences through which gardeners feel at home together. Finally, I question whether new relationships formed through gardening extend across time and space, suggesting that participation in garden life will not necessarily cultivate an ethic of care for others.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: Cardiff University President's Scholarship
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:05

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