Cultivating community through gardening in Kenora, Ontario
Keywords:community gardens, social capital, ecological citizenship, community-based participatory research, Photovoice, Northwestern Ontario
Community gardens are places where people connect, share, and engage their social and ecological communities. The purpose of this research was to document and communicate participants’ experiences of community-building through community gardening in Kenora, Ontario, Canada. The primary method used was Photovoice, whereby a group of twelve participants shared photos and stories of their garden communities in a series of workshops. Follow-up interviews were used to get participant feedback on the photovoice process and fill gaps in the data, while participant observation was used to triangulate data. Results suggest a uniquely relational perspective of community gardening, the significance of sharing and learning in the garden, as well as success with and barriers to social capital and ecological citizenship among gardeners. Of particular importance, future garden initiatives in Kenora will likely require a combination of institutional and grass-roots efforts to facilitate intergenerational bonding, connecting across community gardens, building gardens in accessible locations, and addressing colonial and racial barriers to collaboration.
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