The Giving Trees: Community Orchards as New Urban Commons

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Barron, Jennifer




This thesis explores community orchards through the lens of the commons. Grounded in extensive qualitative research at nine orcharding sites in three Canadian cities (Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto) the author explores the meaning and purpose of community orchards to those who create and maintain them; the ways in which they can be conceived of as commons, and what community orchards can teach us about the challenges and potential of producing and sustaining new urban commons. The author advances the view that community orchards are much less about the fruits produced within them, and more about the production of urban space as new kinds of commons. The production of these food commons entails four main tasks: resisting enclosure, appropriating space for community, decommodifying exchange, and claiming power to shape the city, in collaboration with municipal administrations. As contributions to food security, community orchards work at deeper levels than might first be imagined, having less to do with what volunteer orchardists get in the way of free fruit and more to do with what they give through the medium of the orchards - to themselves, to each other, and to their communities. Keywords: commons, community orchards, community gardens, decommodification, neoliberalism, food security, food commons


Public and Social Welfare




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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