Tommy Bleasdale Ph.D. has published academic papers and popular articles about food justice movements and urban agriculture in Phoenix, Arizona. Working closely with practitioners over the last seven years, he has both observed and taken part in multiple aspects of local food system establishment, from gardening to policy creation.

Dr. Bleasdale is an active participant in many local food movements. He helps shape urban and just community-based food systems using the best information available. By fusing the knowledge of academia with the experience of practitioners he crafts material to meet the needs of a community.





A food justice movement is when an underprivileged community organizes around increasing access to nutritious, healthy and culturally appropriate food. Food justice movements often focus on creating and maintaining small local food systems based first and foremost on social justice. Many food justice groups design their food systems with environmental and sustainability discourses in mind.

My primary research revolved around exploring local food movements in underprivileged communities in the city of Phoenix. The groups I worked with have created community gardens, small urban farms, market gardens, farmers' markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. They have also helped reform city policy around creating new, local community garden zoning codes. All of these groups are located in neighborhoods that have been classified as food deserts by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and independent researchers. Three chapters of my dissertation focused on exploring how these groups create and maintain neighborhood-scale social movements based on local food production, distribution, and consumption.

Below are some brief examples of one of the outcomes of this research:

  • Cultivating the Food Desert[web]

    A popular article by journalist Allie Nicodemo outlining my 2011 study into community gardens in a local food desert. Published in both (2012) Chain Reaction, (7)1, pp 42-3 and Fall (2012) CLAS Magazine (1)1, pp 24-5.
    Link to the Article

  • Food justice and local food system policy:
    A collaborative approach.[pdf]

    Article in Community Greening Review an annual publication of the American Community Garden Association. pp 5-7. Bleasdale. T. (2014, August 6).
    Publication PDF

  • Community Gardening in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona: Aligning Programs with Perceptions[pdf]

    A project update poster presentation at the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research 13th Annual Urban Ecology and Sustainability Symposium. Spring 2011.
    Poster Presentation PDF

  • Gardens of Justice: Struggle for an equitable
    food system in south Phoenix.[pdf]

    An informal presentation I conducted for a group of human geographers about the evolution of the US community garden, politics of scale and economy of community gardens and some unpublished results of interviews and focus groups I conducted.
    Presentation PDF