Green Guerillas and the community garden movement

In our project Caring IN the city we are exploring the urban landscape with children's eyes. One of the most important spaces for children are parks and playgrounds. In the Arganzuela district of Madrid, where our project is based, there are many playgrounds but they are usually cold and dull spaces.

Trying to figure out how could parks be more friendly and inviting, we have come across the community garden movement in New York and the story of the Green Guerillas:

In 1974, Liz Christy, a Greenwich Village artist, cleaned up a trash-filled vacant lot on the Lower East Side and turned it into a productive community garden, now known as the Liz Christy Garden. Soon after, she and Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Hattie Carthan formed the Green Guerillas. One of their early restoration activities was to toss seed-filled water balloons over fences into the city’s abandoned lots.

The Guerillas now have 800 members and have helped neighborhood groups create and maintain 1,000 urban gardens over the last twenty-five years. In the past three years, as the gardens have become threatened with destruction by the City, the Green Guerillas has switched its focus from horticulture technical assistance and has been organizing coalitions of gardeners to lobby for their gardens’ future.

(read more).

Community gardens have become key spaces for urban renewal and community building. As they explain in their website, "Today, more than 600 community gardens serve as testaments to the skill, creativity, and determination of New York City’s community garders. They grow food for their families and neighbors. They connect city kids to the earth. They give seniors cool green spaces to pass summer days. They allow people to kneel down together and garden in the city".

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For an in depth article on the community garden movement, check out this article:

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Thanks for the article, Irene! I'm curious to hear from you if you see any similarities or differences between New York and Madrid? What I get from this article is that once the movement is rooted, it can overcome and survive a lot of resistance. Hopefully that would be the same in Madrid, and elsewhere in Europe too, for that matter! 

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Hi, Gunilla! I don't see many similarities between Madrid and New York, because here the community garden movement is still pretty incipient and is not as strong as it is in NY. Hopefully, it will grow and take note from what happened there ;-)

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