06-The urban gardens of the City of Barcelona

While they are selling a modular system to plant in a corner of the balcony as an urban garden in the Internet, the government of Barcelona usurps the term for the set of parcels administered by them, trying »that they plant ecologically«. These gardens, 12 until now, are situated in the middle of the city-centre like in the neighbourhood Raval (photo to the right), but also in the outskirts. They want to create 3 more gardens until 2012, but the supervisor of ´Parcs i Jardins` emphasizes the difficulty to find pieces of free land which according to him are more and more limited.

This programme – which is partly financed by the foundation of the bank La Caixa – started in 1996 and it`s adressed to people older than 65 years who are physically qualified for agricultural work (»because the ´disabled` would be part of another programme«). As normally there is 2,5 times more demands than parcels these are shared out in a drawing which is repeated every five years. During this time the government gives the keys to the users who have to take care of that nobody without a permission goes into the garden.

At the webpage of the government its urban gardens are characterized as »new green public spaces« and the programme as participative, with the add-on that »the garden is the protagonist«. Although the responsible person describes the personality of a gardener as an »individualist who only dedicates time to his own parcel«, the programme describes the importance of the big social value for its participants and for the exchange between generations as to the possibility of an environmental education for children.

The announcement of the mayor that it is about »a new advance for all the people of Barcelona« causes opposite reactions. The interviewees of the other types of gardens regret the restriction of access to just a few, the fact that the gardens are only for retired people and the lack of self-managment. The interviewee from Can Masdeu says that »it is necessary to organize the gardens in some way, but not as much as that at the end you will be a consumer again«.



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