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Home gardens of Humboldt County: exploring the politics of knowledge, reciprocity and community

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Title: Home gardens of Humboldt County: exploring the politics of knowledge, reciprocity and community
Author: West, Haley
Abstract: Since the post war period, small-scale subsistence practices have been steadily disappearing as a way of life for families across the United States. Spaces traditionally used for home gardens have been replaced with the modern American lawn. However, rising concerns surrounding issues of environmental degradation have led some Americans to examine ways to reduce their daily environmental impact, especially in regards to food production and consumption. Heightened ecological awareness is also transferring to home spaces, where trends in home gardening suggest that fruits and vegetables are becoming increasingly popular cultivars in domestic landscapes. Through qualitative interviews with local gardeners, my thesis explores home gardens in Humboldt County, CA uncovering the intimate link between knowledge, reciprocity and community in our backyard environments. My research suggests that home gardens are spaces of environmental engagement. In these spaces local ecological knowledge is cultivated and reproduced and informal networks enable gardeners to participate in the exchange of plants, materials, and harvests. These activities foster stronger social connections to community and place. Gardens also exist as cultural spaces, where issues of land use contestation and political ecology converge to form a varied landscape of human-environment interactions. While the health and wellness aspects of home gardens are well established, this research also suggests that home gardens are an essential part of participant’s lives and function as home-spaces of dwelling, ritual and renewal. This research shows that gardens are an integral and under-researched subject of everyday environmental politics. Furthermore, this thesis examines the garden as a site of political activism and explores the potential that these spaces have towards strengthening connection to food and community.
Description: Thesis (M.A.)--Humboldt State University, Social Science: Environment and Community, 2011
Date: 2011-05

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  • Masters Theses [874]
    A collection of selected Masters Theses in electronic format.

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