Nepal, Mexico, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Brazil seem a world away from Scotland.
But when it comes to community gardens, they are all united by an international community development project led by Dundee.
What is it about?
Through a series of workshops, theCommunity gardens beyond communitiesThe program brought together policymakers, community activists, and academic partners from around the world.
The aim was to influence individual and collective changes that would mobilize local communities to actively address environmental challenges.
This includes the reuse of organic waste and food production.
It also aimed to strengthen links with broader urban issues that impact vulnerable groups.
Dundee and Fife involvement
The project involved community gardens and projects coming together via video calls to present their work and exchange ideas.
It was led by Jenny Glen (University of Dundee), Dr. Fernando L. Fernandes (University of Dundee) and Dr. Nina J. Morris (University of Edinburgh).
Now, the project's work will be presented in an exhibition inCentro Larickin Tayport on April 22 and 23.
The exhibition may then travel to Strathkinness, the Maxwell Center in Dundee and possibly a tour of Dundee's Verdant Works.
Exhibits will include a marquee made from plastic bottles created in collaboration with a local artist, a model ofLorrainestove, permaculture garden model, seeds to bring to the participants, as well as talks and videos from the gardens involved.
How the project came about
Jenny Glen, speaker and learning by doing organizer in the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law at the University of Dundee, explained how the community gardens program is a community development project, starting in 2020/21.
Funding was received from the Insight Institute of Scottish Universities.
While this brought together people from universities, it mostly brought together people from local communities working together on community gardens or food growing projects.
While working with people in Dundee and Fife, Jenny asked if they would be interested in meeting online with people from different countries who are growing food and trying to make change in their own communities.
“Community development is about people coming together to take action on what's important to them,” Jenny said.
“It is based on the values of human rights, social justice, equality and respect for diversity.
“It was about local people working together to try to create change and deal with some of the big issues they were facing.
“This included accessing land to grow food or reclaiming land that was unused or threatened by urban development, addressing water scarcity in some countries, and also working together to respond to climate change and the impact of COVID-19. .
“Many projects have been sharing and developing permaculture techniques adapted to the local environment in a 'no waste' spirit, working with children, youth and families to (re)connect with nature and share intergenerational skills that are sometimes lost.
“For many projects, the role of women as community activists was critical.”
How did Jenny get involved?
Jenny's own background is in community development.
Originally from Dundee, she did most of her work in Edinburgh and then stayed in London for around 20 years.
When she returned from London, she began working in a community garden in Tayport.
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She finds it amazing how community gardens bring together so many different people, regardless of their ages or abilities.
Some people are there because they want to learn how to grow food.
But a lot of people are there for the social aspect.
Community cohesion is also a key factor - just trying to bring people together in places.
There are now an "incredible number" of community gardens in Fife and Dundee, often on reclaimed land, he said.
activities around the world
What has been "really encouraging", however, is discovering the synergies of people working along similar lines around the world.
“We bring people together online,” he said.
“All the projects made a five-minute video of their project, and the funds were used to fund that.
“They also put together some presentations. They held workshops in their local areas.
“We brought people together to talk about what was important to them, and at the time, it was things like the impact of covid-19 that was quite important in some countries, as well as food poverty and trying to grow healthy food.
“But also things like land ownership, things like women coming together and making a difference in their communities.
“So many women involved as activists in the local community working together with other women to make things happen.”
Inspirational stories told through the project include a Ugandan woman who helped her entire village of 400 families build Lorena stoves, reducing the wood they burned for cooking by 80%.
Community gardens in Scotland are picking apples and producing pasteurized apple juice, saving tons of apples from food waste.
Brazilian community groups are using soup kitchens and cooking to combat domestic abuse and gender violence.
Kenyan community groups are teaching local farmers permaculture techniques so they can waste less and grow more food.
Nepalese community groups are collecting tons of discarded plastic bottles in the Himalayas and have built a "plastic pavilion" educational center out of them.
Community groups in Rwanda are building school gardens so that children can help grow food for school meals and address problems of poor nutrition and diet.
Mexican community groups are teaching people about biodiversity and climate change by encouraging them to grow boxwood gardens at home.
And the highlight of Jenny?
When asked if any of the international stories in particular caught his attention, he found the projects in Brazil "incredible."
Here, they are involved in real struggles for land rights.
In Brazil, the concept of “community gardens” does not fully capture the reality of the diverse and historical experiences of urban agriculture.
Urban agriculture varies according to the territories, the people and their struggles.
The examples of urban quilombos and resistance throughout history up to the present day show how agriculture can be a form of cultural struggle and insurgent citizenship.
The social function of community orchards is to fight for the right to land and raise awareness of the importance of community orchards as a tool to combat gender and domestic violence and victims of drug trafficking.
Dundee's own network
Meanwhile, there are many new and well-established community gardens in Dundee.
The Network of Community Gardens– which is a separate project – is facilitated by Manuela De Los Rios of the Maxwell Center to bring them together.
Examples include the Camperdown Community Growing Space, which has had a feasibility study completed.
A community led Campy Growers Association was created to continue to work with the council.
Another example from Dundee is the GROW Observatory.
This Citizen Observatory has empowered individuals and entire communities to take action on soil and climate across Europe. GROW aims to improve the accuracy of predictions about extreme events such as floods, droughts and forest fires.
Dundee Urban Orchard, also known as DUO, is a city-wide arts and horticulture project that supports individuals, community groups and cultural organizations to plant and tend small-scale orchards in Dundee.
Other examples, however, include the Dundee Green Network, which includes 59 parks covering 4,000 acres (including cemeteries and allotments) and a 27-mile footpath/cycle path circumnavigating sites of international importance within the Tay estuary and green and blue spaces. of local importance. appreciated
by residents and visitors.
With the aim of inspiring
Jenny hopes the Tayport exhibit will shine a light on community gardens and community food-growing projects and help inspire others.
"It can be really depressing, right? The more you read and hear, especially about climate change," he said.
“This is really the question of our lives, and it can be hard to imagine how ordinary people could answer these global questions.
“But really, the project, even though it is very small and tiny in hindsight, is really a matter of people working together and coming together to make a difference, whether it's more environmental awareness, connecting people with nature, mobilizing the community, growing healthy food. , or getting the message across and the like.
“It was just fantastic. Intergenerational stuff too.
“We just want it to be an uplifting experience for people to see what's possible and learn from each other.
Also to focus on what's going on in Dundee in terms of the most amazing work that's going on in a lot of different settings right now. People gather for community gardens. There are many of them."
When to see the exhibition
*Community Gardens Beyond Communities, The Larick Centre, Tayport, 22/23 de abril.
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