The motivations and experiences of community garden participants in Edinburgh, Scotland

David McVey, Robert Nash, Paul Stansbie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
324 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents the perspectives of participants from three Community Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland and investigates the role that food growing plays in their recreation and leisure activities, personal development, the development of their children and the impact on their communities. Thirty-eight participants were interviewed using qualitative, semi-structured questions to explore their motivations and experiences from their involvement with community gardens. Participant observation was used to better understand the importance of the gardens in their lives. The participants felt the gardens were places that fostered neighbourly engagement, increased leisure opportunities, social support, community health, connectedness, and community diversity. They were also places that promoted knowledge exchange inside the garden and in to the homes of the people and the community itself. Anxieties over land use and land reform highlighted how community gardens symbolised empowerment but also showed resistance to the hegemonic structure of local council and government. In effect, the research suggests that community gardens grow much more than just food, they grow community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-56
Number of pages17
JournalRegional Studies, Regional Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2018


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