Community gardening is as much about community as it is gardening, and compared to growing plants, cultivating community is far more difficult. In Community Gardening in an Unlikely City: The Struggle to Grow Together in Las Vegas, Schafer documents his time as a member of a fledgling Las Vegas community garden and the process through which a rotating group of gardeners try to forge community. He demonstrates the ways in which choices gardeners make about what goals to pursue, or who belongs, or what story to tell about their collective efforts, influence how they and others experience and interpret the garden. The garden culture that emerges over time shapes how, or whether, community is practiced at the garden, and has important consequences for the gardeners' abilities to connect with the low-income, Black and Latinx community in which it is located. Schafer's analysis provides important insights about urban culture, the environment, and food justice in the American Southwest, and a sober look into the often messy process and practice of community.
Chapter One: Sowing Seeds of Community and Sustainability in a Wasteland
Chapter Two: "We Have a Community Garden in Las Vegas?" Situating Sustainability in Sin City
Chapter Three: Miracle in the Mojave: Spiritual Place Narratives and Cultivating Community
Chapter Four: Talking the Talk: Performativity and the Cultural Production of a Community Garden
Chapter Five: "We Have Everything Else, but We Have No Foundation": The Impact of Strategic Choices on Collective Identity Formation
Chapter Six: It's for Everyone, It's for No One: Explicit Inclusivity, Implicit Exclusivity, and the Boundaries of Community
Chapter Seven: Committing to Community