Cultivating Vibrant Gardens in Urban Communities: Success Factors of Community Gardens in Beijing and Shanghai

Danning Lu


Community gardens have emerged as community development initiatives with proven environmental, social, and public health benefits. While many studies evaluate the benefits of community gardens, fewer studies evaluate the success and failure of gardens, especially in China. This research uses four case studies of state-sponsored community gardens in Beijing and Shanghai to analyze social and organizational factors that help and hinder the success of community gardens. Factors impacting success are multi-faceted and interactive, and relations between residents and local government staff determine success throughout different development stages. In the design stage, the involvement of residents and their vision are important to success. In the maintenance stage, the leadership of key actors, including Residents’ Committee staff and volunteers, residents’ preparedness for self-governance, and external recognition are the most significant factors. The findings corroborate literature on factors of community gardens’ success while contributing new insights about the organization and governance of community gardens in the context of a top-down political system.


Community gardens; China; urban sustainable development; community governance; neighborhoods

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ISSN 2369-8721