Keywords: community gardening, urban policies, social ties, individual and social empowerment, civic engagement.
The Author focus on the recent resurgence of urban gardening in Western cities
and on the effects of this grassroots cultural and social innovation on the evolution
of urban public policies. Traditionally vegetable gardens (allotments) are associated
to popular classes and subsistence economy, but recently we register a new
movement in collective and critical gardening that redesign their identity, purposes
and meanings. The analysis focus on three case studies of innovative urban policies:
the pioneering experience of community gardens in New York City and the
Green Thumb municipality program; the Main Verte shared gardens program (jardins
partagés) of the municipality of Paris (France); and the public program of «social
» allotments for elderly people of the municipality of Bologna (Italy), recently
reformed in order to open the policy to all citizens and generations. The aim is to
analyse challenges, opportunities and problems for urban public policies interested
in a dialogue with grassroots practices in collective and critical gardening.