Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Helene Lee

Second Advisor

Susan Rose

Third Advisor

Michael Beevers




Urban gardening has been hailed as a tool for community empowerment in the inner city to relieve food security. But in some low-income communities with predominantly people of color, the Whiteness of a new wave of urban gardening and the Alternative Food movement for local, slow, and organic, can be a source of race and class tension, hindering the potential for collaborative partnerships. This study applies critical perspectives on race and explores through qualitative analysis the race-class conflicts around food and urban gardening in a very diverse, low-income neighborhood in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania called South Allison Hill. A series of seven interviews with some neighborhood leaders and organizations involved with revitalization and/or urban agriculture reveal some of the claims to social roadblocks in local food systems development. They give insight into some of the structural limitations, local history, and experiences that shape group and individual actions. In the process, they suggest what needs to be done to more effectively and collaboratively harness the potential of urban agriculture in community empowerment, poverty alleviation, and conflict resolution. Findings reveal necessity of structural economic justice, centralizing experiences of people of color in food discourse, building cultural competency, using empathy-based communicative action for racial reconciliation, and engaging residents in participatory community revitalization.