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City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America Paperback – May 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

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"An important book about how the urban gardening movement is transforming our landscape and reconnecting us to the land." - Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse"

From the Inside Flap

"The social history of American cities would not be complete without a full account of the rise of community open spaces. Lawson does exactly this by providing a compelling and poetic account of the history and making of urban gardens. Combining solid scholarship with engaging images of the gardens and stories of their makers, this book sheds new light on the value of urban open space. More important, it explains why community gardens need to stand alongside city parks as permanent open spaces. Essential reading for community developers and landscape architects as well as anyone who ventures outside, enthusiasm and shovel in hand, to improve their local environment.—Mark Francis, author of Urban Open Space and Village Homes

"The definitive history of the past hundred years of America's experience with community gardens. A labor of love by a garden activist, the book appears at a most appropriate time—today our city dwellers and suburbanites are retreating onto carpets of passive open space tended by homeowner associations and lawn care outfits. Lawson thoughtfully analyzes the weaknesses of community gardens when used as a response to social crises and, by contrast, investigates community gardens as an alternative to today's managed care of open space. Her history clearly presents a way of community living that we can elect if we choose her wisdom."—Sam Bass Warner, Jr, author of To Dwell Is to Garden

"An important book about how the urban gardening movement is transforming our landscape and reconnecting us to the land."—Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520243439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520243439
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,148,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Reader from Yellow River on January 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
In terms of the world, the idea of community gardening might go back thousands of years, to the time of King Cyrus of Persia. In terms of the United States, it might be so American an idea that it goes back to the time of European colonization. For the idea might be as old as the commons of English-speaking settlers and the town squares of Spanish-speaking settlers. But Laura J Lawson is concerned with a more limited timespan. Her book, CITY BOUNTIFUL, covers community gardening in the United States from the 1890s to the present.

What drew her to that topic? The author first turned to gardening to get through tightly budgeted college years. Gardening was such a budget-smart move that she thought she was a rural wannabee. But the green-acre life wasn't for her. Instead, she was a city girl who wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible. So gardening became a research and a practical pursuit for her.

Did gardening have the same appeal to most people over time? Which time period would have a definite paper trail of written evidence and perhaps also eyewitness accounts? A CENTURY OF COMMUNITY GARDENING IN AMERICA was the topic that answered both questions. For community gardening is a popular idea with a spotty track record that`s well documented. We have over a hundred years of funding, staff and supply levels going up and down. It's not that people don't consistently like gardening. It's that community gardening has found its steadiest support during crises.

So depressions and wars have been guarantees of community gardening success. That's because people stick to large-group gardening when that gardening is part of the bigger picture. People who like gardening say it's good for character and well-being.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JulesJames on November 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Got this for a college class. So to me it was boring, outdated but better than other subjects for the particular class. Written by a 'boring' professor as well, however, it was thoroughly written. I think she wrote it for 'kuddos' if you know what I mean. Normally I would NOT have purchased this book. I am into gardening and for educational reasons for school it was fine, for pleasure, it was not.
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