Date of Award

Spring 4-26-2023


Dr. Simon Jorgenson

Dr. Teresa Mares

Dr. Luis Vivanco

Project Description

The city of Burlington, Vermont (Burlington) is home to the Burlington Area Community Gardens (BACG), a program of the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department. This program has a 50-year legacy in the Burlington community and today comprises 14 garden sites that serve over 1,400 people. Within the framework of food sovereignty, community gardens are valuable, multi-functional spaces that positively benefit residents and neighborhoods alike. However, planting gardens in reclaimed urban spaces may come with food safety concerns. Like other cities that have an industrial heritage, some of Burlington’s urban areas may have soils with high levels of toxic heavy metals and other contaminants.

This project seeks to understand the impact soil contamination has had on the development and implementation of community gardens across Burlington. The project also explores the continued implication of soil contamination and the resulting complexities of gardening in an urban area. Through interviews with 13 gardeners and key figures within the gardening community, a three-part narrative podcast is woven together. The Gardens Nearby, details how soil contamination fits into a larger problem of available open space for community gardens, the resiliency of residents and neighborhoods faced with soil contamination, and the resounding benefits these community gardens have for individuals and communities alike. Lastly this project intends to utilize place-based change methodology and adult learning theory to inspire and engage residents as a means to support the development and prioritization of community gardens across Burlington.

Project Approach


Document Type