Urban Allotment Gardens in Europe
eBook - ePub

Urban Allotment Gardens in Europe

Simon Bell, Runrid Fox-Kämper, Nazila Keshavarz, Mary Benson, Silvio Caputo, Susan Noori, Annette Voigt, Simon Bell, Runrid Fox-Kämper, Nazila Keshavarz, Mary Benson, Silvio Caputo, Susan Noori, Annette Voigt

  1. 384 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Urban Allotment Gardens in Europe

Simon Bell, Runrid Fox-Kämper, Nazila Keshavarz, Mary Benson, Silvio Caputo, Susan Noori, Annette Voigt, Simon Bell, Runrid Fox-Kämper, Nazila Keshavarz, Mary Benson, Silvio Caputo, Susan Noori, Annette Voigt

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About This Book

Although urban allotment gardening dates back to the nineteenth century, it has recently undergone a renaissance of interest and popularity. This is the result of greater concern over urban greenspace, food security and quality of life. This book presents a comprehensive, research-based overview of the various features, benefits and values associated with urban allotment gardening in Europe.

The book is based on a European COST Action project, which brings together researchers and practitioners from all over Europe for the first detailed exploration of the subject on a continent-wide scale. It assesses the policy, planning and design aspects, as well as the social and ecological benefits of urban allotment gardening. Through an examination of the wide range of different traditions and practices across Europe, it brings together the most recent research to discuss the latest evolutions of urban allotment gardening and to help raise awareness and fill knowledge gaps.

The book provides a multidisciplinary perspective, including insights from horticulture and soil science, ecology, sociology, urban geography, landscape, planning and design. The themes are underpinned by case studies from a number of European countries which supply a wide range of examples to illustrate different key issues.

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A history of urban gardens in Europe

Nazila Keshavarz and Simon Bell
Contributing authors Andis Zilans, Andrew Hursthouse, Annette Voigt, Ans Hobbelink, Antoine Zammit, Ari Jokinen, Bent Egberg Mikkelsen, Bruno Notteboom, Byron Ioannou, Chiara Certomà, Eva Schwab, Ivana Sentić, Johan Barstad, Krista Willman, Laura Calvet-Mir, Ligita Baležentienė, Malou Weirich, Maria Partalidou, Martin Sondermann, Monika Latkowska, Nerea Morán, Ole Pihl, Sara Ursić, Simone Tappert, Sophia Meeres, Susan Noori, Theodosia Anthopoulou, Tim Delshammar, Werner Heidemann and Zuzana Gogová


From the earliest times, houses in towns and cities often had gardens where people grew food, maybe kept chickens or livestock, and were often rather rural in character within the enclosing walls. Gardens as social spaces, accessible to rich and poor, within the boundaries or on the outskirts of urban areas can be traced back at least 4,000 years in Persia (Dickie, 1968). However, the urban allotment and community gardens as we know them today in Western countries have roots in problems that emerged in European and, to some extent, American cities following the mature phases of the industrial revolution during the mid- and late-nineteenth century. Industrialization followed the agricultural revolution and was accompanied by a major movement of population, as people migrated from the countryside to work in the new mines and factories, which in turn led to the rapid expansion of towns and cities. These new urban areas grew so quickly that they were not accompanied by proper planning or provided with many amenities, being polluted, dirty, crowded and insanitary.
Relatively early on in the growth of industrial cities, some philanthropists and politicians became aware of the problems of the urban poor and suggested providing them with space to grow vegetables and fruit, a practice most of them were familiar with. Urban gardening thus first appeared in the nineteenth century in response to lack of availability of fresh food during the transition from feudal agrarianism to urban industrialism (Barthel et al., 2013). Periods of economic depression, especially that of the 1930s, as well as the two world wars which came before and after that decade, also gave momentum towards the modern concept of urban gardens. Urban planners, politicians and gardening advocates started to realize the potential of urban gardens as means to serve society through providing not only food but also clean air and leisure opportunities, a practice that has had its highs and lows in different historical periods in Europe.
In this chapter the history of the development of allotments and community gardens as defined in the Introduction to the book will be outlined, tracing their social, political and urban development chronologically, beginning in the1700s, when industrialization in Europe effectively started, until the present day. The aim is to identify the driving forces and trends that led to the establishment of urban gardens in European towns and cities and to set the scene for the rest of the book. Urban gardening did not start at the same time or develop at the same pace across the continent, so that shows distinct regional differences. Source material for the chapter derives from a range of historical writings and records, official websites, national reports and statistics. The material was supplied by all the chapter contributors, who took the available materials in their own languages and made summaries in English according to a common format. This secondary data was then synthesized to form the contents of the chapter.
The available literature used here varies in quantity and quality, tending to focus on a relatively limited number of countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, where the practice has historically been more common and where there are stronger traditions than in countries where urban gardening has only recently developed, such as, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Serbia, Spain, Portugal. Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic sit in between of these two groups as the practice reached its peak in these countries during the world wars or just afterwards. The majority of the first group of countries represent the most industrialized and urbanized regions of Central and Northern Europe, while latter group are located in Southern/Mediterranean Europe, where gardening tended to be more private and rural until recently. However, the evolution and origin of the urban gardening movements in each country are similar, since they tend to be responses to the same factors such as food shortages during years of austerity caused by wars and economic depressions as well as a response to the fast growth of polluted cities and the urbanization of the population. Whether this occurred in the early years of industrialization in the nineteenth century when people were at risk of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and cholera (Crouch and Ward, 1997) or more recently, with the post-Second World War urban expansion of later-developing countries and the most recent economic crises, the pressures remain similar.
The role of social activists, politicians and gardening advocates in different periods will also be revealed. Other dimensions of urban gardening, such as the impact of different legal arrangements, planning regulations, design concepts, environmental stewardship and social conditions will be covered in detail in later chapters. In order to look at the wider context, the history of urban gardens outside Europe, especially that of the USA, will also be summarized, as there are trends and movements which found their way from there to Europe.
The chapter is organized in sections according to the major historical periods in which key economic, social and political events and factors influenced the establishment, development and in some cases, decline and reinvigoration of allotment and community gardens. The first period is the era of industrialization and the first wave of urbanization and emergence of what we can call the pioneer countries in urban gardening. The second is the two world wars, the Great Depression, and their immediate aftermath. This can be seen as the time, mid-way through the twentieth century, when the gardening movements reached a high point. The third phase is the post-war decline of urban gardening in Western Europe which coincided with the reconstruction of war-torn cities, subsequent economic development and the increase in the standard of living which occurred through the 1950s and 1960s. This decline can be contrasted with the rise in urban gardening within the Communist sphere in Eastern Europe. The fourth phase is the revival of urban gardening that emerged between the 1970s and the present day and matured after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany in 1990. The general chronology of the formation of allotments and community gardens in a number of European countries is shown in Table 1.1.
Table 1.1 Timeline of urban gardening in Europe
Year Phase Key factors affecting urban gardening Country

1700-1910 Industrialization • Early provision of land for the poor Pioneers: Austria, Belgium, Denmark,
• City Beautiful Movement Finland, France, Germany,
• New towns and suburbs laid out by philanthropic industrialists Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK
1911-1950 The world wars and Great Depression • Allotments as a solution to hunger and unemployment Pioneers plus Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania,
• Victory gardens Spain
• International allotment movement
• Allotment clubs and associations
1951-1972 Post-war decline • Ending of war Pioneers except former
• Post-war urban development East Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
• Decline of unemployment
• Advances in living standards
1973 the present The revival of urban gardens • Increased disconnection between people and nature Pioneers and newcomers: Cyprus, Greece, Malta,
• Rise of the environmental movement Portugal, Serbia, Spain
• Neo-traditionalism
• Sustainable development
• Globalization
• Twenty-first century economic depression

The first phase: industrialization (1700–1910)

The commencement of the Industrial Revolution can be marked by the refinement of the steam engine and subsequent innovations in the textile, iron and steel industries together with a global export market that developed in the UK between 1700 and 1780 and from which emerged the typical industrial landscape around coalfields,...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. List of boxes
  7. Notes on contributors
  8. Preface
  9. Foreword
  10. Introduction
  11. 1 A history of urban gardens in Europe
  12. PART I Urban allotment gardens in the European political, planning and legal sphere
  13. PART II The ecology of urban allotment gardens
  14. PART III Spatial design aspects of urban allotment gardens
  15. PART IV The social sphere of urban allotment gardens
  16. Concluding remarks
  17. Index