The concept of Urban Gardening, which emerged in the seventies in New York, Manhattan, describes a communal garden use of urban green spaces. It therefore differs from the so-called “gardens for the poor” that emerged in Germany as early as the beginning of the 19th century and from which the allotment garden (“Kleingarten”) movement later grew from. Private allotment gardens and community gardens should be seen as complementary to each other and not as competition. In modern practice, there are increasingly mixed forms of private and community gardens. They range from cooperatively managed urban agricultural plots, to community gardens within allotments, botanical gardens or parks, to urban gardening with primarily social goals such as inclusion and environmental education.
Municipal practitioners from 9 countries and 16 cities discussed this new diversity of approaches and experiences in depth and jointly developed solutions and project ideas. They had accepted the invitation of Connective Cities and the Berlin districts of Berlin-Mitte, Pankow, Lichtenberg, Tempelhof-Schönfeld and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf to join the virtual dialogue event that took place from 20.04. - 22.04.2021.
Stefan von Dassel, District Mayor of Berlin-Mitte, opened the event with a concise statement reflecting on conflicting goals in land use and urban development.
The topic was further discussed in a panel, especially the role of urban gardening in the context of climate-friendly and resilient urban development. The online panel discussion included: Stefan Tidow, State Secretary in the Berlin Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection; Benedikt Haerlin from the Future Foundation for Agriculture and Paul Yeboah, Director of the Ghana Permaculture Institute.
Afterwards, participants had the opportunity to present their good practices in three working groups and to get to know each other better.
The first day formed the starting point for the peer-to-peer consultation on the second day. Five practitioners in two parallel sessions were able to explain the challenges in their Urban Gardening initiatives in more detail and reflect on the solutions proposed by their colleagues.
On the third day, three challenges were selected and further developed into project ideas with concrete action planning.
Instead of keynotes, this time there was a panel discussion without presentations.
Urban agriculture and regional value chains
Doris Maria Nabrowsky, Lichtenberg District Office, Berlin, Germany
KaMubukwana Municipal District Urban Agriculture Experience
Tomás Raúl Tivane and António Cumba, Municipality of Maputo, Municipal Council, KaMubukwana District, Mozambique
Agricultural activity in Katembe
Celso Simão Fulano and Manuel Júlio Salomão Nhone, Municipality of Maputo, Municipal Council, Administration KaTembe Municipal District, Mozambique
Agro-Ecology in Durban: green space development
John Ngubane, eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa
Agriculture meets manufacturing
Ulrich Dilger, City of Fellbach, Germany
Gemüsewerft Bremen: Fusion of social service with demands of urban agriculture
Michael Scheer, Gesellschaft für integrative Beschäftigung mbH, Bremen, Germany
Public parks in Dresden
Stephan Viertel, Amt für Stadtgrün und Abfallwirtschaft, Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Germany
Berlin Community Garden Programme
Toni Karge, Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, Berlin, Germany
Ghana Permaculture Urban Garden Project
Paul Yeboah, Ghana Permaculture Institute / Techiman Municipal Assembly, Techiman, Ghana
The role of allotment gardens in urban space – Berlin
Video by the Department of Education for Sustainable Development in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69jKSmA9P8c
The discussions were both engaging and very practice-oriented. The panel discussion was very well attended with over 60 participants. For the second and third days, only the active participants in the dialog remained. With 14 participants from Berlin, Fellbach, Dresden and Stuttgart, German municipalities were well represented. The international twelve experts came from Techiman (Ghana), Maputo (Mozambique), Durban (South Africa), Moshi (Tanzania), New York (USA), Quito (Ecuador) and Jakarta (Indonesia).
It became clear that Urban Gardening approaches are culturally dependent and therefore vary greatly from city to city. Nevertheless, there were also a number of common challenges, such as:
"What is the best way to protect gardens from vandalism, theft, and animal predation?"
"How do I protect garden spaces from potential conversion (e.g. to housing, sports facilities, etc.) in rapidly growing cities?"
"How can gardens be better adapted to the consequences of climate change?"
However, there were also differences between German cities and communities abroad:
While in Germany community gardens primarily focus on social goals, such as improving neighborhoods, inclusion of refugees and disadvantaged people, and environmental education, gardens in other contexts can also contribute significantly to food security and safety. This raises other sustainability questions there, such as:
"How can comparatively more expensive organic products be better marketed while being grown in an economically sustainable way?"
"How can more efficient farming methods be better communicated to private households?"
"How do I proceed when informal settlers already live on communal green spaces?"
Three project ideas were developed out of the process, which were detailed in three jointly developed action plans and whose implementation will be facilitated in the future:
Connective Cities will continue to support municipalities in developing their project ideas having in mind future implementation.