Urban Farming in the Era of Crisis in Greece: The Case Study of the Urban Garden of Ag. Anargiri-Kamatero and Fili
Over the past couple of decades, urban agriculture has increasingly gained recognition as a viable intervention strategy for the urban poor to earn extra income throughout the world. Greece is now entering the seventh year of an economic crisis, and urban agriculture in abandoned municipal urban spaces is seen as a means for fighting the poverty of certain social groups.
The aim of this paper is to present the main characteristics of the operation of a municipal allotment garden located in the western part of the greater Athens urban area, namely, in the border of the municipalities of Ag. Anargiri-Kamatero and Fili. The aforementioned allotment garden was initially operated as a poverty relief action under the supervision of the central Greek government and the financial assistance of a European Union-funded programme for poverty alleviation. The initial beneficiaries/participants in the allotment garden were selected by the municipalities based on their sociodemographic characteristics. In a second phase, after the end of the funded programme, the garden continued to operate until today with the support of the two municipalities and the personal initiative of beneficiaries, some of them being from the original group while others are newcomers.
Moreover, the paper aims to report the key attitudes and experiences of people that operate the garden. The research on the attitudes and experiences of the participants took place in 2016 via a structured questionnaire. Thirty-nine participants answered questions regarding their attitudes and experiences regarding the economic, social and environmental benefits resulting from their participation in the activities of the allotment garden. The participants, most of them being men, were originating from different educational, family and economic backgrounds.
The results of the research indicate that the main benefits resulting from the participation in the municipal allotment garden is the socialisation of the participants. Eighty-five percent of them spent more than two hrs daily within the garden trying to exchange services, vegetables and knowledge. In terms of the economic outcomes, the main benefits result from the savings that the participants have by not spending their money elsewhere, since they spent their free time in the garden. In addition, the participants share the products produced in the garden by establishing a network of exchange economy. Finally, in terms of the environmental sustainability, 92% of the participants reported that they never used chemical pesticides or fertilisers during their gardening activities.
KeywordsUrban agriculture Allotment gardens Sustainability Greece
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