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Urban agriculture in A Building

Ida Åberg is a PhD student in Political Science and is researching urban agriculture. But how does it work in practice? In the inner courtyard of A Building, she is now constructing an urban garden where anyone who wants to join, can.

Bild: Ida Åberg och Charlotte Fridolfsson med ärtskott.In one of the inner courtyards of A Building, four new educational pallet rims stand ready with text about which vegetables need more nutritious soil or less. Ida Åberg (at left in picture) and her supervisor, Charlotte Fridolfson, come in carrying a tray of pea sprouts. The soil is being delivered today, and the starting shot for A Building’s own agricultural garden has been fired.
“I research urban agriculture from a political perspective,” Ms Åberg says. “But I also wanted to try it in practice, to experience the problems that urban gardeners experience and to see what happens when people start cultivating.”

Bild: En skopa jord levereras till A-huset. Because there can be problems, according to Ms Åberg. Conflicts over land use are not uncommon, and is it all right to just take water wherever and however you like? Concepts such as ‘guerilla gardening’ exist. But the agricultural garden in A Building is completely legal.
“We got a permit to use the inner courtyard, the pallet rims were manufactured and donated by the workshop here in A Building, I got the soil in exchange for some snacks for a coffee break, the plants are my own or donated, and I have permission to get water from the spigot there,” Ms Åberg says, pointing at a water outlet on the wall.

Urban agriculture is actually everything grown in a city, from balcony flower-boxes to gardening allotments, according to Ms Åberg’s definition. But not, perhaps, if you ask the ‘real’ urban gardeners.
“People starting to grow their own vegetables on the balcony, and preferring that work over shopping in stores – that says something about our economic and political reality. Urban agriculture deals with many things: food, culture, and identity. In Malmö, for example, urban agriculture has been used as an integration project among older Swedes and immigrants.”

Bild: Nytillverkad pallkrage.The idea is that everyone helps with the gardening – watering a little, clearing a few weeds, and tasting one of the vegetables when you feel like it.
“But what about the mavericks – the people who just eat and never help – that’s a question I often get,” Ms Åberg says. “You can see that as an effect of the experiment. My idea with the project is to see what happens when you start growing your own.”

Bild: Truls Löfstedt och Charlotte Fridolfsson lassar jord i skottkärra. Attendance today isn’t massive. Truls Löfstedt, PhD student at the Division of Information Systems in the Department of Management and Engineering (IEI), has joined because he thinks it’s cool, and contributes the strength of his arms when the soil is to be loaded into the yard. Charlotte Fridolfsson is Ms Åberg’s supervisor, and also thinks the project is great fun.
“This isn’t directly part of her thesis; Ida’s doing this a little on the side. So far, not many people know about the project. But we’ve talked about involving more divisions within IEI, for example to get the watering done in shifts. But we’ll see.”

Everyone is warmly welcomed to visit the garden.
“Come and take a look, pick a couple weeds, eat a sugar pea. The more who help, the better it will be! We’ve actually talked about a harvest fest in the autumn as well, even beehives!”

Elisabet Wahrby 2016-05-16

Page manager: elisabet.wahrby@liu.se
Last updated: 2016-05-26