Anchorage’s community gardening program is administered by the Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation program and part of their mission is to provide “a food system where locally produced, affordable, and nutritious food is available to all”. The demand for access to community gardens far outweighs the supply raising the question, how can the city of Anchorage strategically and sustainably expand their community garden system? To explore this question, the Municipality of Anchorage partnered with the University of Alaska Anchorage to better understand how expanding community gardens can bridge a gap in the local food system and increase access to fresh foods by the city’s most vulnerable and diverse individuals. To do this, we developed a multi-faceted needs assessment that included a community survey, stakeholder workshop, and key informant interviews. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges of expanding Anchorage’s community gardens and offers expansion strategies that balance the needs of the community’s diverse populations with the city’s community gardening mission. The findings of this study show that to sustainably meet the needs of diverse audiences, community garden expansion efforts should focus on 1) making new gardens accessible by identifying safe, convenient, and functional locations; 2) building gardener capacity through education and outreach programs; and 3) strengthening partnerships with other community organizations to share resources and capabilities. The methods used and the associated findings revealed through this study can be adapted and applied in other cities looking to develop a sustainable and strategic model for community gardening.

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