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Specificities of French community gardens as environmental stewardships

Ana Cristina Torres, Centre d'Ecologie et des Sciences de la Conservation (CESCO UMR7204), Sorbonne Université, MNHN, CNRS, UPMC, BP 135, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005, Paris, France; Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, UMR 8079, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91400, Orsay, France
Sophie Nadot, Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, UMR 8079, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91400, Orsay, France
Anne-Caroline Prévot, Centre d'Ecologie et des Sciences de la Conservation (CESCO UMR7204), Sorbonne Université, MNHN, CNRS, UPMC, BP 135, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005, Paris, France

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09442-220328

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Abstract

Community-based efforts are essential to address urban social–ecological challenges. Here, we focus on French community gardens. Through participant observation and semistructured interviews, this study seeks to provide empirical evidence on:
(1) what motivates volunteer gardeners in French community gardens to undertake this activity, (2) what practices take place in the gardens, and (3) which individual and collective processes are associated with gardeners' experiences in the gardens. Through these questions, we aim to understand how these initiatives relate to environmental stewardship. Our results show that environmental, social, and self-motivations are the drivers behind gardeners' participation in the gardens. It seems that involvement in the gardens provides opportunities to fulfill those needs and/or motives through different interrelated processes between the individual with him/herself, the human collective, and nature such as: contemplating nature and benefiting from sensory experiences, having access to environmental education, experiencing individual and collective organization, renewing social–ecological relationships, and facing local challenges. We note that French community gardens provide arenas for new experiences of nature. In addition, even if gardens’ biophysical features and gardening practices allow a series of processes that provide social and ecological benefits and outcomes, these gardens refer to environmental stewardship practices by cultivating relational values. These values provide opportunities for innovative ways of creative conservation, reflecting how care for ourselves extends to care for others, for places, and for nature.

Key words

community garden; conservation; environmental stewardship; experience of nature; relational values; urban; well-being

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087