Food-producing community gardens have taken various forms over the past two centuries and have fulfilled a variety of roles. As we grapple with issues of food security, the use of biotechnology and artificial chemicals in agriculture, rising food prices and the environmental costs of growing and distributing food, the different functions of community gardens are coming under increasing attention. This issue of Local Environment is based on papers first delivered at a National Community Garden Conference in Canberra, Australia. The range of papers explores the key themes that emerged from the conference and deepens our knowledge of community gardens in both theory and practice. In particular, conference participants addressed various aspects of community gardening that centred on issues of sustainability, health and inclusion for urban dwellers.