Comparing community garden typologies of Baltimore, Chicago, and New York City (USA) to understand potential implications for socio-ecological services


Urban community gardens offer unique social and ecological benefits in cities. However, given the dynamic nature of cities and the profound effects of variable land uses on green space provisioning for people and wildlife, investigating community gardens from a landscape perspective offers valuable insight into the functions of these spaces in terms of ecosystem services and sustainable development. In this study, we use garden locations provided by stakeholder groups and fine-scale spatial data to compare community gardens across three cities: New York City, NY, Chicago, IL, and Baltimore, MD (USA). In each city, we assess the spatial distribution of gardens and compare the natural vegetation and impervious surface cover within these gardens to the surrounding neighborhood and landscape. We then compared these cities to clarify the role of community gardens in metropolitan development. Our findings demonstrate that gardens cluster in neighborhoods in New York City and Chicago, but they are more spatially distributed across the landscape in Baltimore. The distribution of Baltimore’s community gardens is more likely to be contributing to a greater network of ecosystem services across a broader urban landscape. Moreover, at the garden scale, gardens in NYC and Chicago have more canopy cover and built infrastructure than the more herbaceous gardens in Baltimore. This suggests that our case study cities exhibit different garden typologies, histories, and potential for ecosystem services. This work provides critical insight into the typology in and around community gardens in different cities, which is useful in understanding the potential ecosystem services and planning trajectories of these cities.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Elsa C. Anderson, University of Illinois at Chicago
Monika H. Egerer
Nakisha Fouch, Clemson University
Mysha Clarke, Villanova University
Melissa J. Davidson
Urban Ecosystems

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