Thesis Title [working title]: The Role and Innovative Potential of Community Gardens and Community Supported Agriculture in Wales for Sustainable Transitions
First Supervisor: Dr Mara Miele
Second Supervisor: Professor Paul Milbourne
Reviewer: Dr Christopher Bear
Start Date: October 2012
Completion Date: September 2015
Funding Source: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentship
- MSc in Environment, Politics and Globalisation, King’s College London (2011)
- BA in International Relations, Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences (1998)
Memberships / External Activities
- Postgraduate Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (since 2013)
Areas of Research Interest
- Food Security and Sustainable Food Systems
- Social Innovation and Sustainable Transitions
- Alternative Food Geographies
- Community Initiatives for Sustainability
Community food growing projects enjoy increasing interest in many parts of the world. In the UK, including Wales, there was also a rapid grow in their number in the last years. Community gardens has been researched from various aspects, e.g. mainly their benefits, their different representations and meaning as contested spaces for 'right to the city', as places for environmental and social justice, and way of social capital building. Similarly, community supported agriculture (CSA) has seen a scholarly interest as a way of sustainable consumption and has been researched about its benefits, barriers and people’s motives for participation.
Various community initiatives have been studied recently as 'social innovation and socially innovative initiatives within or led by communities' (Moulaert et al. 2010) or 'grassroots innovations' evaluated as innovative means of the social economy juxtaposed to the market economy (Seyfang 2009; Smith 2007) that can play important role in transition to more sustainable systems. However, there is little evidence in the literature about the role of community food growing as social innovation and its potential for contributing to food sustainability. On the other hand, the studies about community gardens and CSAs in the North remain geographically limited as they focus predominantly on the same countries, mainly the USA, Canada and Australia, and to less extent the UK, Europe and Japan (Guitart et al. 2012).
In this view, I aim to investigate what is the role and innovative potential of community gardens and CSAs for making change toward more sustainable food systems, and to demonstrate the impact of the community food growing on the food sustainability in a small and less-industrialised economy such as Wales by using the concepts of strategic niche management (SNM), transition management (TM) and multi-level perspective (MLP) as theoretical framework. In addition, I aim to make contribution to the social innovation literature specifically on three aspects: (1) examining the balance between internal and external priorities and goals of the niches, (2) understanding how collective identity, sense of belonging and group cohesion are achieved, and (3) examining the shared and conflicting values between niches and regimes and how these affect the translation of the innovative ideas into mainstream.
- To investigate how community gardens and CSAs emerge as social innovation niches and sustain themselves, and explain the interaction between the niche and social capital.
- To examine the ways the community food growing projects replicate and their potential for scaling up or translating their initiatives into the mainstream, and to demonstrate how their values and vision influence their diffusion.
- To explore the ways the social innovation niches and community-led movements take place in regional and national decision-making processes and their potential to be part of sustainable food policies.