Grow, share or buy? Understanding the diverse economies of urban gardeners

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


This thesis provides insight into the role of urban gardens in people’s food provisioning practices and the mechanisms through which this role is established. It does so through an in-depth study of the food provisioning practices of 27 gardening households in Brno, Czechia. The topic is framed by the broader discussion on more sustainable ways of food production and consumption. This thesis addresses knowledge gaps on the productive function of urban gardens and the underrepresentation of Central and Eastern Europe in the urban agriculture scholarship. At the same time, it contributes to the literature on alternative food networks with insights into non-market food provisioning. The theoretical approach is grounded in the diverse economies framework, accompanied by conceptual borrowings from social practice theory and Warren Belasco‘s triangle of consumer choice. The research methodology combines semi-structured interviews with food logs which provide quantitative data on respondents‘ food provisioning. The data collection took place in four rounds in 2017. The results are presented in four chapters of the monograph, which provide an in-depth account of the interactions between gardens, other food sources, respondents’ eating habits and dietary preferences. Chapter 4 offers a quantitative summary of the seasonal patterns in respondents’ food provisioning and diets, which are strongly shaped by home-grown food. Chapter 5 presents diverse food sources used by respondents, which are interpreted as elements of distinctive social practices constituting diverse food economies. It shows that food self-provisioning is guided by a different logic than other food provisioning practices, because in this practice respondents act not only as consumers but also as producers. Chapter 6 further unravels factors shaping the choice of food sources, analyzing respondents’ understandings of ‘good food’. It introduces a perceived hieararchy of food sources, in which food self-provisioning and other non-market practices are preferred over shopping from conventional venues. It also deals with questions of conscious consumption, arguing that food provisioning has an intrinsic moral dimension. Finally chapter 7 zooms in on the functioning of gardens as food sources. Using insights from both quantitative and qualitative data, it identifies four ideal types of the relation between practices related to the garden (gardening) and to the kitchen (food provisioning, that is, acquiring, preparing, consuming and distributing food). Based on these ideal types it discusses general factors which shape the integration of food self-provisioning into food provisioning practices.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Wiskerke, Han, Promotor
  • Jehlička, P., Co-promotor, External person
  • Veen, E.J., Co-promotor
Award date13 Oct 2020
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463953825
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cum laude


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