Questions and Answers

Urban community gardens are a phenomenon that is spreading throughout the world.
More and more people are coming together, in order to shape their
surroundings and to produce ecological food.

What are Community Gardens?

Community Garden in La Boca, Bueons Aires

  • Community gardens are collectively run gardens.
  • The spaces are mostly located in cities.
  • They are parcelled out to individuals only for a limited time and in smaller segments, otherwise they are worked on by groups.
  • What is planted is very diverse. Vegetables and fruits but also flowerbeds or park facilities are possibilities, and animals may also be kept there.
  • Frequently, the gardens are accessible to the public.
  • Their legal status may vary greatly. They may be squatted spaces, but they may also be privately owned or public properties.
  • The groups that manage the gardens may be very different: neighbors, political groups, churches, schools…

Why do people create Community Gardens?

Individualization, globalization, ever increasing poverty, segregation, and high unemployment are affecting our society. Community gardens contain great potential to mount a positive reaction to current social and community problems.

In addition to gardening itself, there is a great number of social, pedagogical, and political reasons for establishing community gardens, which depend upon the natural and social context of the garden itself, and upon the imagination and ends of the group:

  • Improvement of urban ecology.
  • The use of undeveloped spaces.
  • The promotion of species diversity.
  • Environmental education.
  • Grass-roots adoption of spaces and transformation of urban spaces.
  • The production of ecological food and therapeutic plants.
  • The critique of industrial land management.
  • Community-oriented self-organization, transcending cultural differences.
  • The integration of marginalized people who have been shut out of the world of regular employment.
  • The creation of spaces of action based on solidarity and feminist principles.
  • Experimentation in participatory structures and grass-roots democracy.

These are just some of the ideas that will be conveyed here.
The film series will be concerned with all of these aspects.

History of Community Gardening

Guerilla Gardening in Friedrichshain, Berlin

There have, always and everywhere, been collective gardens, in the form of collective land management. In the 1970s in New York, however, there arose a community gardens movement in inner-city lots. There for the first time we witness the coming together of a number of issues arising in gardening itself, in the politics of food, in economy, in urban beautification, and in the social and artistic spheres.

Since then, community gardens have been spreading throughout the world with similar objectives.

New concepts have also appeared in this process, including for example:
Interkulturelle Gärten (Wikipedia)
Garden Guerilla Aktionen in London. (Wikipedia)

"Another world is plantable",....

Map of a Community Garden

because community gardens are not just about gardening, but also creating alternative movements throughout the world, independent and collectivist, for the sake of the environment and of society, beyond the reach of global neoliberalism.
Not all community garden projects are in themselves progressive or free of repression, but many of them are and many are directed explicitly toward the goal of emancipation. This site, as well as the films, is meant to support and connect gardens of this sort, and to promote the establishment of still more of them.

Gender Relations and Gardens?

Community Gardener in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Community Gardener in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Women often occupy the leading roles in community garden projects. The gardens thus fulfill an important task in that they provide to women a convenient space within the urban environment. In connection with the grass-roots democratic appropriation of space, this space however takes on a greater emancipatory significance.

In opposition to the appropriation of space within and through gardens, the formal and informal structuring of public space generally occurs in a hegemonic manner, which is to say that in this country it is influenced by the structural inequalities of gender relations. This unfortunately entails, still, a preference for ‘masculine’ patterns of living and understandings of social roles. Community gardens constitute an exception to the extent that they are a public space structured by women.

In addition, the individual empowerment of the social position of the women who are active in such a community project is promoted, and in this way new capacities develop and social connections are established.

The aspect of community gardens relating to the promotion of women is particularly important, since it strengthens the equality of the genders by addressing itself specifically to girls. They thereby create a sort of half-public space, in that girls are able to learn consciousness and responsibility in a context beyond football fields and nuclear families, and above all beyond the current models of gender roles and of consumption.