Urban Community Gardens in Hungary: Part of a Social and Environmental Movement?

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Fanni BARSONY, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
Urban gardening is a relatively new phenomena in Hungary. In my analysis I would like to investigate to what extent urban community gardens can be considered to be part of grassroot activism and if and how they are influenced by the global trends of environmental movements.  I would demonstrate the multidimensional roles that community gardens can have: they are grassroot, self-help, community-based initiatives through which citizens tend to solve social, economic and environmental problems of communities.

I would argue that unlike the more traditional forms of collective actions like mass demonstrations or street protests which have claims more of political nature, the small-scale community-based initiatives like urban community gardens target apolitical, every day, smaller scale and sustainability problems. However, based on my research I would argue that gardens are sites of social action and have the capacity to generate social capital, and also to foster local and participative forms of neighbourhood level politics. I would show cases where community gardens act as catalysts of politics at the local level.

Community gardens can contribute to a low-carbon future in many ways. I see their importance less in the responses that they can give to food supply issues, but more in the awareness raising through which they can have an impact on the wider community. 

In countries like Hungary where there is a high level of distrust in public institutions and a low level of generalised trust within the society, such bottom-up type projects can provide the citizens with the possibility to enter the public arena and to address the issues of ecological and environmental awareness at the same time.