Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rebecca L. Powell, Ph.D.


Community gardens, Denver, Food Security, Hunger, Mixed methods


Community gardens increase mental health, physical health and social inclusiveness and cohesiveness, while directly connecting gardeners to their environment. In some U.S. cities gardens additionally increase community and individual food security by providing fresh food to those who struggle to feed themselves and their families. This study examined the relationship between community gardens and increased food security in Denver, and is one of the first studies of its kind in this location. Specifically, I investigated who participates in community gardens, why they participate, whether gardens are accessible, and whether community gardens have the potential to improve individual and community food security in Denver, Colorado. I gathered behavioral, perceptional, and demographic data from surveys (n=203) and semi-structured interviews (n=14 interviewees). I also used a variance-to-mean ratio and kernel density estimation analysis to analyze the spatial distribution of gardens, and generated walksheds to understand the distribution, walkability, and demographic representativeness of community gardeners compared to residents surrounding gardens. Despite the national and local importance of the issue of food security and hunger reduction, gardeners in my study spoke more about mental and physical health, and social benefits of gardening. Based on their survey responses, I could only classify fourteen respondents as food insecure, which suggests that many gardeners in Denver are food secure. The few food insecure respondents indicated that they truly rely upon the produce and financial savings from their garden to relieve hunger and/or to provide themselves access to affordable food. While most participants in my study were food secure, a low survey respondent sample size relative to the number of community gardeners in Denver possibly excluded some who garden to alleviate food insecurity. Regardless, any populations that lack community gardens might benefit from access to one, or other local food resources. Results from this study can advise Denver's Sustainable Food Policy Council in their suggestions to the city to institutionally assist in food insecurity and hunger reduction efforts.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Grace Catherine Kellner

File size

160 p.

File format






Included in

Geography Commons