Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Brian Dowd-Uribe

Second Advisor

Adrienne Johnson


As community gardens become more prevalent across the country, do they have more to offer than ensuring communities have access to fresh produce? While a vital part of their mission, some grassroots and nonprofit organizations see gardening as an avenue to counteract and work against systems of food and social inequality. Planting Justice, a grassroots organization located in Oakland, use gardening as a tool for reintegrating prisoners back into the community, and ensure these ex-offenders do not return to prison. Planting Justice also engages with the forces of gentrification, working to coopt the systems of divestment and inequality to create a more equal and harmonious food and social system. I argue that gardening, and the structure of Planting Justice, create a positive, healing atmosphere that allows ex-offenders to reintegrate back into the community and removes barriers that could potentially lead them to returning to prison down the line. As a vehicle of social justice, food is a powerful tool to create equality, and Planting Justice works to harness that ability to combat high recidivism rates and environmental dispossession within the Bay Area. I find that through community engagement, education and a commitment to their staff, Planting Justice creates a community within their organization that improves the reintegrative process of formerly incarcerated individuals while pushing against social forces of dispossession.