Jessica Gerrior, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Libby McCann, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Joy Ackerman, PhD, Committee Member
  • Kim Niewolny, PhD, Committee Member


community gardening, community food systems, food insecurity, food access, food dignity, food justice, higher education, campus-community engagement, social identity, environmental identity, intersectionality, environmental education, praxis, critical pedagogy, critical autoethnography

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Community gardening efforts often carry a social purpose, such as building climate resilience, alleviating hunger, or promoting food justice. Meanwhile, the identities and motivations of community gardeners reflect both personal stories and broader social narratives. The involvement of universities in community gardening projects introduces an additional dimension of power and privilege that is underexplored in scholarly literature. This research uses critical autoethnography to explore the relationship of community gardening and social identity. Guided by Chang (2008) and Anderson and Glass-Coffin (2013), a systematic, reflexive process of meaning-making was used to compose three autoethnographic accounts. Each autoethnography draws on the author’s lived experience in the community food system in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire between 2010 and 2019 to illustrate aspects of community gardening and social identity in this context. Unique access to data and insights about community food systems is provided by the author’s dual and multiple positionality in this context (e.g., as an educator/student, provider/recipient of food assistance, mother/environmentalist). The resulting accounts weave thickly descriptive vignettes with relevant scholarly literature that contextualize and problematize the author’s lived experience. A key theme across the narratives is that “people live layered lives . . . making it possible to feel oppression in one area and privilege in others” (Bochner, 2002, p. 6). Intended impacts of this research are expanding critical autoethnographic methods in food studies and environmental studies, offering cultural critique on the impacts of university engagement in community food systems, and embracing qualities of vulnerability, engagement, and open-endedness in critical social research (Anderson & Glass-Coffin, 2013).


Jessica Gerrior

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-0412-8215