This dissertation examines one community garden situated in Mamelodi in the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. Using qualitative research methods, including participant observation and interviews, the dissertation presents a descriptive account of the history and functioning of the community garden as well as the motivations and benefits that gardening at the community garden offers the research participants. The five research participants were all senior residents of Mamelodi who had volunteered to join the community garden at various points since its inception in 1997. Furthermore, the dissertation makes use of the life history method to present the lives of the five research participants, thereby situating them as actors within an unfolding history. The research presented in this dissertation is then situated within the current scholarly debate in Development Studies about the role of urban agriculture in addressing food insecurity on the one hand and achieving food sovereignty on the other. In doing so the dissertation reviews the relevant literature and debates while taking community gardens as one instance of urban agriculture. Community gardens are receiving much attention in the literature on urban agriculture and it is lauded as an important mechanism through which poverty and food insecurity among the urban poor can be addressed, while also offering the promise of providing urban households with a source of income as wage labour seems to be on the decline. This dissertation presents a number of findings based on an analysis of the data regarding the non-economic aspects of urban gardening. In the process the dissertation speaks to the importance of gardening and the garden as a site for the expression of belonging, a right to the city, nostalgia and learning. In this the dissertation builds on a growing scholarship pointing to the personal, symbolic and social aspects of urban agriculture. The main contribution this dissertation makes is to offer a critique of the economism inherent in some of the scholarly literature and development policies concerning urban agriculture which continues to neglect the centrality of the social aspects entailed in growing and exchanging fresh food produce.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2018.