Community Gardens: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Latino Communities


Ariana de Lena

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Of the 1.7 million Los Angelinos that identified as Hispanic or Latino in 2005, over one-third of them were living below the poverty line. Minorities also face disproportionate amounts of pollution, crime, and often live in communities that lack of adequate, healthy foods, radically reducing their overall quality of life. In the Los Angeles area, many urban community gardens have sprung up as an innovative solution to downtrodden Latino communities. Urban gardens have the potential to provide a healthy, safe space for neighborhood children, supplemental income, and viable food alternatives for families. They also have therapeutic benefits, connecting the gardeners to the soil and their surroundings, generating a sense of community and ownership. My research provides an overview of the environmental justice movement in relation to community gardens. Included are profiles of two community gardens in Los Angeles?the El Sereno Community Garden in El Sereno and Proyecto Jard?n in Boyle Heights. Though both gardens have predominantly Latino participants, the El Sereno garden has significantly lower rates of participation. I have examined each garden and analyzed the differences between the two, highlighting the way in which a community garden can best utilize its resources to most benefit its participants and its community.


Robert Gottlieb




Ford Research Endowment

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