Urban gardens in Rome swarm, experiment and question the legitimacy and legality of their actions. The conference I participated Saturday, April 20, as part of the “Think green festival” aimed to continue developing a charter entitled “Linee guida.” To this conference, open to all, there where twenty people including but the majority were members of shared gardens and two people were part of a research laboratory at the University of “La Sapienza”.
The debate quickly focused on the issue of recognition of a status shared with local authorities gardens, in fact most of them are implemented without being able to legalize their occupation of a public space, lack of specific status. In order to organize the debate we were offered to review one by one the 12 articles of the charter, which as noted by one participant: “should serve primarily self between the gardens.” Yet the exercise of defining shared gardens is not so obvious as it takes to find a balance between respecting the uniqueness of each garden so that their activities are consistent with the Charter;
The definition of what is a shared garden is the start of the debate. Defined them as a group of gardeners is their common but it does not take into account the diversity of their audiences, their motivations and the importance of their profits. Then, their goals are different, there are gardens that work for the preservation of green spaces, others incorporate people in difficulty, others see it as a means of promoting urban agriculture etc.. Finally, many practical issues, such as the use of fertilizer, water, etc.. Here is a sample of questions that run through the gardens and return to the values and orientations as they want shared as more pragmatic issues related to the regulation of urban development.
Having a common discourse allow gardens to be better represented with governments to assert their right to a legal status. If this lack of status does not slow so far the implementation of gardens and is therefore not a problem for some, according to others, it prevents their integration into urban policies, so their recognition as a tool for social inclusion, of environmental protection, the fight against social inequalities cultural, economic, etc..
This issue is the subject of a lively debate because the recognition of urban gardens with local authorities may be double-edged debate. It can facilitate the development of gardens in the city but also to interfer in their practices. Is that counterparty obligations required not they go against some projects that have relatively autonomous modes of organization. There are many community gardens there are steps citizens. Create a common space for dialogue to hear the diversity of claims is a first step, getting a status legalizing their activities is another.
This recognition process that unfolds at different scales show the diversity of issues that cross the gardens and demonstrates the adaptability, consensus and innovation that make them an interesting social mirror about the concerns they relate: living environment life, sense of living together, mixing of social ties and integration of different cultures, etc..
The appropriation of public space by shared garden is not only a question of illegality but reference to a more general phenomenon of citizen involvement, we are in fact more sensitive to values that give meaning to our everyday actions such as eating more healthy, educate children about the environment, share moments of conviviality with our neighbors, etc.. But also in the context of the current crisis as an alternative to rethink its needs in terms of food consumption, awareness modes cheaper and more respectful of people and their production environment;
This is why community gardens are not just green spaces but “oasis of experiments” providing opportunities for new modes of life by linking with green innovations that inhabitants are not necessarily aware. I noticed that the link between social farming and community gardens were often highlighted in Rome. This may be a way to get people to consume more local or educate children in the garden to plate process may participate in fight against junk food.
The question now is how the initiative of the charter and the process control of the city of Rome will they find a common ground of understanding their needs and their expectations because it is involving the inhabitants and the city together that we prepare the futures changes.