Whether you call them allotments, orti sociali, or community gardens areas of agriculture in the midst of urban settings are a microcosm of the joys and challenges inherent in growing your own food.
Not everyone is blessed, as I am, with 50 acres of land to do with as we please. Those folks who are urban dwellers with a lust to grow their own seek out empty lots or, if they are lucky, already established areas for growing veggies and flowers. Each garden has it’s own characteristics but most are true communities. The “farmers” work side by side and share seed, advice and encouragement as they work their way through the growing season. Some have to overcome the local politics to continue to exist but most survive as true grassroots organizing at it’s best.
My best friend has spent the last two years living part-time in Preston, UK. There the “allotment” system is so well established that people put themselves on waiting lists to get small plots of land in the local garden. She tells me folks even throw parties in their green spaces when harvest time comes around.
In Italy multi generational gardening takes place in the Orti Sociali gardens. In Cuba they used community gardens called Autoconsumos to continue to feed themselves after the collapse of communism. A scenario very similar to what will happen to us when our petroleum fueled culture starts to run out of gas.
Here in the USA we are not always as friendly to community garden projects. Some urban planners see them as a “waste of valuable land”. Just look at what happened and is still happening to the South Central Farm in LA. In spite of this most big urban areas have community gardening programs. New York City, Chicago, DC, Los Angeles, Tuscon and Austin all pop up on Google when you type in Community Gardens.
These urban pioneers are keeping alive the art of growing your own food in the midst the concrete jungles that are our current cityscapes.
And speaking of jungles. Tomorrow (or sometime soon) I plan to write about Guerilla Gardening!!