Conflation in politicalgardening:
concepts and practice
Lucy Rose Wright and Ross Fraser Young
This chapter introduces the re-emerging political characteristic of urban gardening
(UG) (Certomà and Tornaghi, 2015). Our contribution presents an understanding
of the importance process has for a group seeking spatial justice through engagement in UG. The garden’s local political environment shapes the process by which
a group seeks to tackle localised spatial injustice. Spatial justice refers to ‘an intentional and focused emphasis on the spatial
It is increasingly clear that, alongside the spectacular forms of justice activism, the actually existing just city results from different everyday practices of performative politics that produce transformative trajectories and alternative realities in response to particular injustices in situated contexts. The massive diffusion of urban gardening practices (including allotments, community gardens, guerrilla gardening and the multiple, inventive forms of gardening the city) deserve special attention as experiential learning and in-becoming responses to spatial politics, able to articulate different forms of power and resistance to the current state of unequal distribution of benefits and burdens in the urban space. While advancing their socio-environmental claims, urban gardeners make evident that the physical disposition of living beings and non-living things can both determine and perpetuate injustices or create justice spaces. In so doing, urban gardeners question the inequality-biased structuring and functioning of social formations (most notably urban deprivation, lack of public decision and engagement, and marginalisation processes); and conversely create (or allow the creation of) spaces of justice in contemporary cities. This book presents a selection of contributions investigating the possibility and capability of urban gardeners to effectively tackle spatial injustice; and it offers the readers sound, theoretically grounded reflections on the topic. Building upon on-the-field experiences in European cities, it presents a wide range of engaged scholarly researches that investigate whether, how and to what extent urban gardening is able to contrast inequalities and disparities in living conditions.
Chiara Certomà, Martin Sondermann, and Susan Noori
‘right to the city’ claims and called for the re-appropriation of public
urban space by following Lefebvre’s seminal work (1968). Progressively, urban
gardening practices became characterised as ‘politicalgardening’ (Certomà and
Tornaghi, 2015), whose major roots are in the famous Liz Christy’s and the Green
Guerrilla group’s intervention in New York, in the 1970s, aimed at recovering
abandoned areas of the city used as dumps and granting local inhabitants enjoyable green space (McKay, 2011). Since then, collective or community gardens have
been created thanks to
gardeners move from resilience and survival to the reworking
of specific problems and to oppositional awareness and resistance (Eizenberg,
2016). By bringing the process of politicalgardening to the fore, Wright and
Fraser emphasise the DNA of the gardens rather than marking its trajectory as a
movement or full-fledged resistance.
Urban gardening and the struggle for justice
‘The right to the city is like a cry and a demand’ (Lefebvre, 1996 , cited
in Marcuse, 2009) of those who usually lack most other rights, such as property
rights and citizenship
Securing or denying minorities’ right to the city?
Metropolitan Region. Geoforum 38: 287–298.
Eurostat (2014): Eurostat Statistical Books: Living Conditions in Europe. Luxembourg:
Follmann, A. and Viehoff, V. (2015): A green garden on red clay: creating a new urban
common as a form of politicalgardening in Cologne, Germany. Local Environment 20
Ghose, R. and Pettygrove, M. (2014): Actors and networks in urban community gardens.
Geoforum 53: 93–103.
Harvey, D. (2003): The right to the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
27 (4): 939–941.
Harvey, D. (2008): The
A Capability Approach based analysis from the UK and Ireland
: Cambridge University Press.
Bateson, G. (1979): Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Hampton: Hampton Press.
Campbell, A. (1976): Subjective measures of well-
being. American Psychologist 31
Certomà, C. and Tornaghi, C. (2015): Politicalgardening: transforming cities and political
agency. Local Environment 20 (10): 1123–1131.
Urban gardening and the struggle for justice
Clavin, A. (2011): Realising ecological sustainability in community gardens: a Capability
Approach. Local Environment 16 (10): 945–962.
Eizenberg, E. and Fenster, T. (2015): Reframing