Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Geography and Geology

Document Type



Those involved in community gardens face multiple challenges to survival, including land tenure, lack of funding, lack of sustained interest, and poor infrastructure, but many successful, long-lasting gardens have found management style to be a key aspect of their success. This project investigated three community gardens in Louisville, Kentucky, in order to determine how self-governance, or internal management by gardeners, overlaps with other success indicators and what development processes lead to successful self-governance. Using qualitative, semi-structured interviews and participant observation, the researcher gathered and analyzed data relative to each garden site’s land tenure, community engagement, environmental design, resource mobilization, and style of management. The researcher discovered that various pathways to self-governance exist, but community-building efforts, such as social events, leadership development, and garden-neighborhood partnerships can foster self-management and success in Louisville’s community gardens. The study concludes a list of recommendations for the organizers to encourage self-management and sustainability for the city’s community gardens. While this project is a case study with results specific to the research sites, other mid-sized metro areas that share demographic characteristics, a range of socioeconomic statuses, and host similar recent immigrant communities as Louisville may benefit from the findings and recommendations of this report.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Molly Kerby, Ph.D.


Leadership Studies | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Other Environmental Sciences | Sociology