"More than fruits and vegetables "
Community garden experiences from the Global North to foster green development of informal areas in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Keywords:urban agriculture, community garden, slum, informal settlement, inclusive urbanism
Urban gardening contributes to society in various ways such as by enhancing communities, ensuring food security, improving health, providing places for recreation as well as by raising environmental awareness.
Although urban gardening initiatives have been spreading, the challenge remains to include vulnerable communities, especially in developing countries, which face manifold infrastructural, environmental and social pressures, thereby helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and foster urban inclusiveness.
The study evaluated the performance of urban community gardens in order to verify their potential for implementation in the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Significant assets and drawbacks were analyzed from existing studies and categorized into social, spatial, economic and environmental factors. Additionally, qualitative interviews on societal and motivational issues were conducted with contributors to a community garden in Dresden, Germany.
The results highlight the potential of urban gardening to counteract spatial pressures in informal areas by creating green spaces, improving food quality, raising environmental awareness and, in general, ensuring a higher quality of life. On the other hand, some obstacles remain to be overcome, such as soil pollution, the high probability of further contamination as well as a lack of basic infrastructure.
A top-down implementation of urban gardens within slums is considered feasible if the projects are designed in partnership with the community, and a long-term adaptive management model is applied. Under these conditions, urban gardening will make a significant contribution to ‘inclusive urbanism'.