Who makes the city? Community food gardens and CPUL City Actions

Andre Viljoen, Mikey Tomkins, Katrin Bohn

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


    This chapter reflects on how community food gardens, established by residents living in six high-density public housing estates in London, may be understood in relation to planning and design strategies advocating the coherent introduction of urban agriculture into cities. It extends findings Tomkins made while completing a PhD by placing them in relation to Bohn and Viljoen's proposal for four CPUL City Actions to promote the integration of food-productive spaces into the urban realm. These City Actions closely align with a multi-stakeholder and action planning approach formulated by the United Nation's Habitat and Environment Programme. The authors have applied a variety of research methodologies, Bohn and Viljoen predominantly using design research methods and Tomkins using participant observation taking the approach of “an agnostic” to enable the suspension of theoretical assumptions, in this case that food growing was the main motivator for the residents' establishment of food gardens. Tomkins' findings are contextualised in relation to international practices and Bohn and Viljoen's research. The authors conclude that while food and food growing for consumption, remain primary motivations for community food gardeners, issues of spatial sovereignty currently take precedent over food growing. They observe that communal growing is by its nature connective, requiring several instances to be seen together, all of which originate from the actions, interactions and sensations of the body. If urban agriculture is to enable more resilient urban food system, the authors' work suggests that a far greater range of production types will be needed within urban landscapes to accommodate the many and nuanced motivations that encourage residents to grow food communally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWhy we need small cows
    Subtitle of host publicationWays to design for urban agriculture
    EditorsRob Roggema, Greg Keeffe
    Place of PublicationNetherlands
    PublisherVHL University of Applied Sciences
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Print)9789082245110
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014


    • urban agriculture
    • community food gardens
    • CPULs
    • CPUL City Actions
    • sustainable cities
    • urban design
    • action research


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