Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science





First Advisor

Kathleen Delate


Community farms and gardens have shown positive impacts on enhancing sustainable agriculture and food security, especially for disadvantaged citizens. The benefits of community gardens/farms for immigrants have been extensive, and the potential for spreading this model is considerable. However, minimal data sets exist on the number, as well as the success, of these gardens/farms operating in Iowa. Through personal interviews with farmers and organizations, participatory action research, and observations, this study analyzed the impacts of community gardens/farms on Iowa immigrant communities regarding food security and safety, income stability, and educational gain. In examining the complex roles of community gardens/farms, not only on immigrant families, but also on the community, concerning primary farming motivations and background, market understanding, obstacles, and short- and long-term benefits. Findings from 35 interviews with community farm organizers (CFOs) and community gardeners/farmers (FMRs) showed that "food security" and "reconnecting with nature, culture, and tradition" were considered the most important benefits of community gardens/farms. Economic benefits ("income") derived from community gardens/farms tended to be cited by the more experienced farmers. Farmers' length of time in the U.S was positively correlated to their focus on economic benefits of the gardens/farms. For the five CFOs interviewed, "land access" and "financial support" were the two most cited barriers preventing long-term success of the community garden/farm. "Language barriers" were cited as potential constraints, but varied between organizations and farmer participants. Organic practices were the norm on most community gardens/farms, although organic certification was not obtained, due to consumers first-hand knowledge of growers and the perceived lack of need for third-party verification. Food safety (FS) practices varied among gardens/farms, with the most rigorously adopted practices on farms where CFOs had obtained FS training and provided trainings to their participants. This study helped fill information gaps regarding impacts of community gardens/farms in Iowa, particularly those established to assist immigrant and refugee gardeners/farmers. In addition, organizations were provided recommendations to improve their programs, which included seeking additional government and donor support to increase the size and security of land tenure for the gardens/farms, and to expand FS and business planning educational opportunities to meet participants' needs.


Copyright Owner

Thanh Ngoc Nguyen



File Format


File Size

126 pages