Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

David Himmelgreen

Committee Member

Rita DeBate

Committee Member

Rebecca Zarger


agriculture, community gardens, food systems


In the global industrial agricultural system many people lack access to high-quality nutritious foods and food production techniques are often inefficient and reliant on harsh chemical inputs. While numerous strategies exist to address the disparities present in the global food system, increasingly researchers and practitioners are looking to local food systems for solutions to strengthen community food security (CFS). CFS emphasizes small-scale production strategies such as farmer's markets, community gardens, and consumer supported agriculture. As these efforts evolve, research is needed to understand how these strategies affect communities. To explore a local CFS initiative, qualitative data were collected from community garden participants in Fellsmere, Florida, contextualized by participant observation. Interviews (N=9) focused on household and community nutritional concerns and the impacts of community gardening on diet quality and food security. Further, quantitative data were collected on the Fellsmere food environment using the USDA Thrifty Food Plan in six local food stores. Individual and household food security, the ability to obtain enough food to live a healthy life, was assessed using a food access and security survey (N=30). Results suggest that the Fellsmere food environment is lacking in the high-quality foods that participants' desire. Additionally, interview data suggests that participants want more control over their food production systems. This thesis provides a case study for better understanding what factors affect community members' perceptions of community food security.