International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Practitioner Report

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Ramón Borges-Méndez

Second Reader

Maggie Jones

Third Reader

Craig Floyd


community gardens, community health, regional food security, youth outdoor education, adult outdoor education, horticultural therapy, experiential learning, regenerative agriculture, nutrient-dense food, social movements, environmental movements, farming movements, sustainability


The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (DPNC) is a community organization that, through its various programming, works to perpetuate a vision of humans as part and parcel of the world. In 2013, when the Nature Center acquired the Coogan Farm property, the organization built a community garden called the Giving Garden to serve surrounding communities, expanding services to the foodservice sector educational programming around sustainable agriculture. DPNC’s partnership with the Robert G. Youngs Family Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, and Gemma E. Moran mobile food pantry, forged in 2014, has allowed the garden to minimize area food insecurity through its contribution of seasonal fruits and vegetables farmed through biointensive, regenerative agricultural practices. This report integrates a participatory research approach, reflecting on my time spent as an intern in the garden in summer 2017 and, now, on my position as the Assistant Garden Manager in the Coogan Farm Giving Garden. Major studies indicate the positive effects that community gardens can have on minimizing regional food insecurity, creating cohesive communities, and increasing overall health of residents. The purpose of this study is to investigate and convey the impact that community gardens have on community health and regional food security in New London County, Connecticut, using the Giving Garden as a case study. Findings suggest that members of the Giving Garden experience a heightened sense of community, recipients of garden outputs achieve greater overall health, and that educational programs teaching the importance of sustainable farming practices over conventional agriculture promote household farming and gardening practices that are more ecologically friendly on a community level.



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