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Keywords:

  • urban agriculture;
  • neoliberalization;
  • collaborative governance;
  • citizen participation

Abstract

A growing body of literature conceptualizes urban agriculture and community gardens as spaces of democratic citizenship and radical political practice. Urban community gardens are lauded as spaces through which residents can alleviate food insecurity and claim rights to the city. However, discussions of citizenship practice more broadly challenge the notion that citizen participation is inherently transformative or empowering, particularly in the context of neoliberal economic restructuring. This paper investigates urban community gardens as spaces of citizenship through a case study of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It examines the impacts of community gardens on citizenship practice and the effects of volunteerism on the development of community gardens. It explores how grassroots community gardens simultaneously contest and reinforce local neoliberal policies. This research contributes empirically and theoretically to scholarship on urban food movements, neoliberal urbanization, collaborative governance, and citizenship practice.