Our research on the uneven landscape of residential gardens in Portland has just been published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning. The paper is called "Socio-spatial differentiation in the Sustainable City: A mixed-methods assessment of residential gardens in metropolitan Portland, Oregon, USA" and reveals some interesting patterns, notably the concentration of residential urban agriculture in gentrifying areas of Portland (see map below), as well as divergent motivations for engaging in food production along socio-economic and educational lines. You can download the article for free for the next 50 days if you don't have institutional access, or feel free to contact me for a copy once the link expires. A big shout out to my students Dillon Mahmoudi and Mike Simpson and visiting scholar Jacinto Santos for all their help with this!
Here's the abstract:
As cities take center stage in developing and brokering strategies for sustainability, examining the uneven distribution of green infrastructure is crucial. Urban agriculture (UA) has gained a prominent role in urban greening and food system diversification strategies alike. Despite that it is the preeminent form of food production in North American cities, residential gardening has received little scholarly attention. Moreover, research on the intra-urban variability of home gardens is sparse. In this paper, we use a mixed-methods approach to assess the scale and scope of residential gardens in Portland, Oregon, a metropolitan region renowned for its innovations in sustainability. Using a combination of mapping, spatial regression, and a mail survey, we compare residential UA and the characteristics and motivations of gardeners in two socioeconomically differentiated areas of Portland and one of its major suburbs. Results demonstrate that engagement in UA is differentiated along both spatial and socioeconomic lines, with more educated respondents engaging for environmental reasons and more lowincome respondents relying on their gardens for food security. We contextualize our findings within broader urban processes, e.g. reinvestment in the urban core and displacement of poverty to the periphery. For policymakers, our results suggest the need for sustainability messaging that is sensitive to a variety of motivations and that resonates with a diverse population. For a city to reach a broader population, it may need to reframe its sustainability goals in new ways, while attending to the structural constraints to food access that cannot be resolved through local food production alone.
Nathan McClintock is a geographer and professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University.