Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Carol Jaenson


Boulder, Colorado has a noticeable and lively community gardening presence. I delved into the question, “What motivates people to be involved in community gardening in Boulder?” In the process of this inquiry, I conducted interviews with thirteen area community gardeners. The narratives of these thirteen gardeners illustrated that Boulder community gardeners come from a variety of backgrounds and participate in gardening for numerous reasons. These reasons include: the desire to be outside, curiosity and experimentation, an interest in sharing resources, a closer connection with one’s food, self-reliance, a commitment to health, and a sense of pride. In order to evaluate the qualitative findings of the interviews, I analyzed the findings through the lens of what I call the four stages of gardening – 1) planning; 2) preparing the land and planting the seeds; 3) weeding, watering, and watching it grow; and 4) eating and sharing food. I found that though the reasons people participate in community gardening are diverse, the gardeners overcome challenges posed by community gardening out of their commitment to cultivating their plots. I hope that this paper can be used to benefit Growing Gardens, the local non-profit organization that supports Boulder community gardens. The examples in this paper of the experiences of community gardeners can perhaps be used in tandem with the quantitative findings of the University of Colorado at Denver’s larger research project for publicity and grant writing purposes.


Agricultural and Resource Economics


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