Biocultural Gardens

TCC's Biocultural Gardens program facilitates community building, health and wellness, and the conservation of traditional ecological knowledge.  We are partnering with local organizations in Belize and Mexico to build or revitalize gardens that each serve their communities as educational sites in which traditional knowledge about plants, healing, and the environment is learned.  The gardens are important sources of nutritious, medicinal, sacred, and other culturally significant plants for their communities.  

Research on gardens has shown them to be beneficial for people in myriad ways.  One study found that community gardeners felt the gardens provided several significant benefits to their community, namely improved nutrition and access to food, increased physical activity, and improved mental health, as well as promoted social health and cohesion in the community (Wakefield et al. 2007).  


It has been proposed that social contacts formed in community green spaces such as community gardens may be one of the main mechanisms behind the relationship between these spaces and improved health (Maas et al. 2009).  Another study on community gardens showed that gardens were places were community organizing occurred to address neighborhood issues, particularly in low-income neighborhoods (Armstrong 2000).


Gardens at schools, and likely at other community centers where children are engaged, have been shown to not only increase fruit and vegetable knowledge, but positively influence dietary habits with the children being more likely to choose and consume vegetables (Parmer et al. 2009).  Parents with higher levels of local plant knowledge and use have been shown to have healthier children (McDade et al. 2007). 


Not only is biological diversity conserved in gardens, but the traditional knowledge about growing and using the plant diversity is preserved as well.  The gardens serve as intergenerational education sites where information is passed from community elders and healers to the younger generation (Waldram et al. 2009).

passion flower


Our Biocultural Gardens program draws on TCC's strengths in botany, ethnobotany, permaculture, food studies, nutrition, and anthropology.

For more information please contact Dr. Jillian De Gezelle at: