This article draws on concepts from social-ecological resilience and a case study conducted in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA to explore the social-ecological functions of community gardening. Through semi-structured interviews with 20 community garden participants and staff, we find that community gardening provides opportunities for participants to foster resilience to the personal, cultural, and economic challenges of displacement and resettlement resulting from urban migration. Specifically, community gardens and community gardening helped participants in our sample develop a sense of belonging and connection with cultural identity, social community, and local environment. Additionally, the process and products of growing one's own food was associated with a sense of empowerment, especially for those coping with poverty, food insecurity, and a lack of healthy, culturally appropriate foods. The practice of community gardening can cultivate resilience by serving as what we term “social-ecological refuges”—safe, restorative community places that not only enable community gardeners to reconnect with themselves, each other, and the local environment, but also function as biocultural refugia, fostering community food security by preserving and transmitting adaptive cultural and ecological memories, skills, and resources related to growing food and managing local urban environments.
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Vol. 36 • No. 4