The “Long Arm” of the Community Gardener

As gardeners, we all take a degree of pleasure and pride in our plots and their produce.  We are attuned to the forces of nature at work in our bits of urban habitat.  We talk about our gardens and what we see; we bend the ear of our friends, our family, and random folk.  Our enthusiasm for our slice of urban nature spreads our ideas about environmental stewardship beyond the boundary of the garden itself.

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Cindy Anderson, a PhD student in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, aims to capture how, and how far, we carry our messages about the garden into the broader community.  Nearly 20 PGP gardeners across five gardens have agreed to document, via GPS-enabled photo, their “interactions” related to the garden. These interactions range from conversations about monster zucchini plants to homegrown dinner with lettuce from the family plot.  Cindy collects the photos and then interviews gardeners about the people and places in them.  Ultimately, she intends to map the locations and themes of these garden-related interactions to see how far the long arm of the gardener reaches.

This project is a pilot study for Cindy’s dissertation research and has already been an enormous help to her work.  If you’re at your plot and see a couple of gardeners talking and peering at photos on a computer, please stop and say hello.   Cindy is always happy to discuss her garden and her research.