Free urban gardens

The vegetable gardens which used to exist between apartment buildings in the socialist era, and then during the transition period, have disappeared. Timisoara, like other cities in Romania, has a local regulation which prohibits growing vegetables in public spaces. Even if it may seem like a minor issue, this interdiction is indicative of a mentality which alienates people from means of subsistence, keeping them away from possibilities of autonomy.
Free urban gardens is a project about small gestures, about self ecological education and self anti capitalist education.
Using permaculture techniques, we built gardens between blocks: sometimes on empty fields that people cross on their way to the parking lot in the back of their apartment building; sometimes right under the windows of ground floor apartments, using earth brought from nearby construction sites, with beds raised on dry branches we found around. These gardens are not fenced in, nobody claims them as their own, they belong to whoever passes by.
These are gardens born in circumstances where the commons are worryingly more and more attacked by capitalism. At a time when the rights of living beings are secondary to corporatist interests, when the nature of food is becoming increasingly uncertain and genetically modified organisms are infesting cultures, when unpolluted air and water are no longer our inalienable right. At a time when nature is no longer a given, something that is there by default – but an endangered territory.
What would the city look like if all empty fields, all unused land would be cultivated with food, a food that would be available to the hungry? The gardens, by which we reclaim a land with ambiguous status (which should be land co-owned by all) and we cultivate food on it, suggest a modest modality of satisfying a need to find cracks in the logic of capitalism. A need to allow the seeds of real life to bloom from between the cracks that creep into the structure of capitalist organization, a structure so devoid of alternatives.

August, 2013

Translation from Romanian: Roxana Marin

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