Urban gardening has exploded in popularity during the past year. Particularly for people from immigrant backgrounds, community gardens can offer an important space for participation.
The pandemic has pushed people all over the world outdoors, a trend particularly visible in cities: more and more people have explored urban forests, met friends on park benches or finally taken up urban gardening.
At the same time, the past year has highlighted how unequal the access to outdoors spaces can be. On the most basic level, this could mean the often-unequal distribution of green spaces between wealthy and poor neighbourhoods, but it is also linked to more complicated questions of social inclusion and exclusion, such as who the spaces are designed for, who feels like they can use them and who gets a say in developing them?
This is something that Anders Hagedorn and Martin Rosenkreutz Madsen have observed close up in Copenhagen, Denmark, where they are a part of Supertanker, a group developing opportunities for social, cultural and urban participation. One of their biggest projects has taken place in Charlottekvarteret, a social housing neighbourhood with the majority of its residents from immigrant backgrounds.
For years, Charlottekvarteret has had a “bad reputation” and the people living there have suffered stigmatisation. Supertanker’s work here has focused on facilitating projects to support community development and a collective identity. Creating shared outdoors spaces in collaboration with the residents is a big part of it.
In early 2020, just before the pandemic hit, the group started a community garden project, which has already become hugely popular.
“Most people here live in small flats and cannot afford a summer house outside the city. The community garden provides them with a little bit of their own space, as well as an opportunity to work on the land and produce something,” Anders Hagedorn explains.
This is particularly significant in a neighbourhood which, just like many social housing areas, is heavily regulated – people living here have traditionally not have much say in shaping their surroundings.
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