Urban gardening students‘ research

Team members

Aileen Azzola, Christoph Blank, Deborah Dauwalder, Dorit Bosshard, Gianni Corona, Giulia Di Romualdo,
Jana Birchmeier, Kevin Bieri, Kevin Däppen, Larissa Bucher, Larissa Cathomen, Leana Aeschbach, Nils Affolter, Sebastian Antener, Thomas Christen, Whitney Bründler

That means urban gardening

Bringing color, life, and farming traditions back to urban cities: That’s the main goal of Urban Gardening. The Movement has gained a lot of importance to not only nature itself but also to us people. It is well known that the presence of plants can increase people’s life satisfaction by reducing fatigue and irritation and restoring a sense of calm. The best thing about Urban Gardening is that every single one of us can partake in making our beloved cities greener and our environment cleaner. All you need is a small space, motivation, and creativity and you are ready to give back to mother nature. 

Some videos from youtube introduce the topic

Since many people live in cities and do not have their own garden, the trend of urban gardening emerged. This makes it possible to grow your own vegetables and herbs in a small space, such as the balcony. You are very free in the choice of planters, you can choose individual pots or put a raised bed on the balcony. The important thing is that the water can drain and does not cause waterlogging. In principle, any vegetable and herb, which can be grown in the gardens, can also be grown on the balcony. Different plants can also be planted in the same container. However, you should make sure that plants with similar preferences are in the same pot. 
What actually is urban gardening?

Urban Gardening also exists in Bielefeld, Germany. In a high-rise housing estate, where almost exclusively refugees live, families and residents have gotten to know each other better through Urban Gardening. More than 15 different nationalities live together there, and at first, they only knew each other in passing. Through the gardening project, they have become closer and have a beautiful and peaceful coexistence despite their different origins and religions. The area between the residential buildings has been turned into 40 garden plots, which the residents can plant as they wish. They grow fruits and vegetables, as well as figs, peppers, tobacco, and other exotic varieties that are common in their native cuisine. The residents have become enthusiastic gardeners. Urban gardening thus not only helps self-sufficiency but also brings people together who previously knew each other only fleetingly. They sow, harvest, and eat together. However, the building of such a garden is also associated with many permits, which were initially not so easy to get. The garden has become a great help, because many families live here, which of course also need food, and with a good harvest, they hardly need to buy additional vegetables and fruits.
Such gardens promote the community and visually enhance the residential areas thanks to the green spaces, and on top of that, you still have your own fruits and vegetables.
Grow your own vegetables: Solidarity Farming and Urban Gardening

Our cities have a heat problem as a result of climate change. For 20 years, the city of Bochum, for example, has been investigated for heat; so-called heat islands are created everywhere, where heat accumulates in certain places; because, for example, house facades heat up. It is expected that this problem will get worse in the next 50 years, because of climate change and building. This is an urgent problem that needs to be solved now, because it takes a lot of time to rebuild. One possible solution is to design trees to provide shade before other areas heat up too much. But beware, too dense trees can also pollute the city; because pollutants collect and could not escape.  Other solutions and projects for the Bochum city planners are to build more watercourses; E.g. in the ground so that it is up to 7 degrees cooler. Also demolishing buildings or building less densely in the future so that air corridors are created is a variant to keep Bochum more climate-friendly in the future. Singapore also knows that green areas can improve the urban climate; Singapore’s urban planners measure temperature, humidity and air pressure in many places. They have found that planted buildings and facades are effectively 4 – 5 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. This is because plants evaporate a lot of water, which cools the air around them. They also clean the air by absorbing nitrogen oxides and releasing oxygen. Optimal for cities with fine dust, soot or other microparticles.
How climate change is heating up cities and how urban gardening can change that

In many cities, unused spaces are transformed into urban gardens and are getting a new purpose and a new life. Most of the times, volunteers are providing a huge part of the work that needs to be done. Many are finding a pleasant balance from their stressful city life. The aspect of education is very important too, people can see and feel the plants growing and they learn how to plant their own vegetables or fruits by themselves.
In Berlin, people are getting together at “Prinzessinnengärten” (garden of princess) or “Himmelbeet” (bed of heaven) and experience the pleasures of nature and gardening. Urban Gardening provides a huge and valuable impact to the city, its residents and their well-being. Additionally, the unbroken trend of regional and seasonal food is supported.
Berlin eats green

More about …

The Relation between plants and the urban environment is called urban gardening. It contains all forms of urban gardening such as intercultural gardens, community gardens, city farms, and guerilla gardening. It focuses on functional use to maintain and improve the urban area. With the rapid expansion of urban areas, urban gardening has gained a lot of importance to the citizens and nature itself. The main goals of this movement include cleaning up neighborhoods, pushing out drug dealing that occurs on empty lots, growing and preserving food for consumption, restoring nature to industrial areas, and bringing the farming traditions to urban cities.
To start your own urban garden, you don’t need a lot. You need a little bit of space, motivation to grow your own plants, and creativity. No Matter if you have a spacious rooftop or a small balcony, you can grow your own plants in the smallest places. It’s in these places where your creativity kicks in. You don’t even have to know about gardening. This is also a big part of urban gardening, you just have to have fun doing it and give something back to mother nature. If you have all those ingredients, you can plant whatever you want and maybe you can harvest your own vegetables soon. 
As urban gardens cannot actually compete with market-based land uses, it is essential to find other ways to understand their various. Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City’s Central Park observed that the trees, meadows, ponds, and wildlife tranquilize the stresses of city life. According to various studies over the years, nature has a very positive impact on human health and even more so in an emotional and psychological sense. 

Trees, grass, and flower gardens, due to their presence as well as visibility, increase people’s life satisfaction by reducing fatigue and irritation and restoring a sense of calm. In fact, Honeyman tested the restorative value of nature scenes in urban settings and discovered that vegetation in an urban setting produced more mental restoration as opposed to areas without vegetation. In addition, areas with only nature did not have as much of a positive psychological impact as did the combination of urban areas and nature.

Having green roofs can reduce the cost of heating in the winter and help stay cool in the summer. Green roofs also can lower the cost of roof replacement. While green roofs are an addition to urban horticulture people are eating healthy while also improving the value of their property. Other benefits include increased employment from non-commercial jobs where producers include reductions on the cost of food.

Ideas on the topic

Irrigation system in an apartment house
With pipelines on the walls, the rainwater will be going to the plants, which are on every balcony. The plants are exactly located there, where they get the best sun for their growth. With a sensor, the rainwater will be given every once in a while to the plants. Depending on how much water they need. If it‘s not raining much a display inside the house will show the inhabitants that they need to give the plants water.

Urban forest
On the roof of company buildings, small forests should be planted. It is important, that the plants that are up there are very resistant and don‘t need that much. It can be as well a mix between solar panels and wood, grass, and plants. If a grocery store wants to do that on their roof, the people can go shopping on the roof as well. It will be a smaller time frame when you can do that, but then the customer has a wonderful experience, getting his fruit or vegetable by herself/himself.

Islands with diverse topics such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. should be in the middle of the city. They are small oases. You can pay a monthly membership and you get a badge. With it, you have access to the islands. You can either way chill and relax in them or take fruits, vegetables, etc. with you. 

Terassen Kult
On the first floor, the house has a balcony. That balcony sells products that are housemade. People that walk by or inhabitants can buy their fruits and vegetables there. The house is full of plants. Every inhabitant waters the plants on his own. If it is a company building there is one person responsible for all the plants, because not everyone is good at watering the plants. The food can be used for the mensa in the company. A shareable refrigerator can be a good alternative to selling the products. It would be for all the people that live in the house.

Rotterdam has a lot of channels. If the earth is good and there is no public space, urban gardening can be made. It‘s important that the plants won‘t be overloaded, and that random people have no access to the products because they have to pay for them. This idea would be easy because the garden is directly next to the water. There is no additional water needed for it. 

Rooftop Gardening 
In spring 2022, Rotterdam will offer the „Rotterdam Rooftop Walk“ for the first time: a walk across the rooftops of Rotterdam. „As you walk above and among the rooftops, you’ll learn how innovative rooftop use contributes to a better future for cities and city dwellers.“ (Rotterdam Rooftop Walk, o. D.) 
So why not use these planted rooftops to develop a garden together? A rooftop garden where all the passionate gardeners of the building can participate, plant their vegetables and herbs, and thereby take a big step towards sustainability?

Bench Gardening 
This is a small-space urban gardening solution: A wooden gardening box with a built-in bench. In the alleys of Rotterdam, there are endless apartments and houses, which have a small forecourt in front of the entrance door. This bench offers pedestrians in the old town the perfect opportunity to rest for a moment. At the same time, the beds with herbs and/or vegetables of the homeowners can be used for cooking directly from the window. A 2-in-1 solution!

Hexagonal Gardening in Rotterdam 
In Italy, there is a public space made of hexagonal wooden elements (influenced by the pattern of honeycombs). „The horizontal floor level was made of wooden elements. […] Earth and plants were planted between the wooden elements“ (Natasha Kwok I Designboom, 2016). 
My idea now is a continuation of this urban enhancement. Instead of just planting plants in the green hexagons, these areas can be used as small gardens for the public. Registered volunteers or employees are responsible for this urban gardening solution and maintain the gardens weekly. These herbs and/or vegetables can be used by subsequent restaurants or bars.  

Green areas on water 
Because the water level is rising so fast, Rotterdam has more and more space problems in the city. In order to be able to keep the green areas in the city, the idea is to build floating green areas on the water. These could be placed next to the residential buildings that already float on the water. In this way, the inhabitants who already live on the water will still have green areas where they can go walking, jogging, or playing.

Compost next to the mailbox
In Rotterdam, every house should have a compost bin next to the mailbox. This will allow residents to dispose of food scraps in an environmentally friendly way. When the compost bin is full, it will be collected by the city and reused as garden fertilizer. This will be used for garden facilities for the city.

Greenhouse in the center of Rotterdam
In the center of Rotterdam could be built a large greenhouse. Residents can pick there their own fresh vegetables for little money. The rainwater will be stored in a large reservoir. The heat will be obtained with the help of a solar system. In this way, the inhabitants of Rotterdam will be able to buy regional and fresh vegetables all year round.

The garden bridge
The Garden Bridge project was an unsuccessful private proposal for a pedestrian bridge over the River Thames in London. The proposed concrete, steel, and cupronickel clad structure was intended to carry pedestrians, with no cycles or other vehicles. Even though I didn’t work out in London, a similar project could be started in Rotterdam. Either, they could build a new bridge or ‘redecorate’ an existing one. (Quelle: wikipedia.org)

Bosco Verticale
The Bosco Verticale residential complex in the Expo city of Milan can probably be described as the first vertical “forest” in the world. Thousands of trees and plants have been planted directly on the balconies of the 87 and 119-meter-high buildings, which are intended to provide the inhabitants with a good microclimate. They are naturally insulating materials and protect the apartments against heat, coldness, and noise. The trees in the skyscrapers receive water fully automatically with the help of an electronically controlled irrigation system. (Quelle: sebastian-grote.de)

Urban Farming
Urban farming is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. It encompasses a complex and diverse mix of food production activities, including fisheries and forestry, in many cities in both developed and developing countries. On flat rooftops, Rotterdam could plant vegetables and fruits.

Car junkyard
Hanging planters and stick-on window vases are other creative solutions for cultivating vegetation in tight spaces.

Vegetable garden
Vegetable garden with spinach and cabbage.

Housing Block Project 
One housing Block shares a garden where tasks will be done by the residents on a voluntary basis. Most Living areas have some space for a garden but not enough for many individual ones. This form of gardening would bring together the residents and provide food as a healthy by-product. 

Green Wall in Rami Levy, Israel
As people in the city are often pressed for space, these urban garden innovations help to maximize plant growth in unique and ingenious ways. For example, vertical planters have become a popular way of spreading greenery where there may be little or no surface area available. Green walls also offer buildings the benefits of cleaner air, reducing heating and cooling needs, and increasing overall wellbeing. The innovative farming solution was successful with Israeli shoppers, who should see up to 30 new green walls in Rami Levy through 2021.

The new Place of old sheet metal
As more and more people move to cities, the urban garden has become a clever way to bring green space into every home and place. So why not green up junkyards, too? A place full of old sheet metal and engines can also gain charm with a little green space.

Emotionalise Soil 
To most people, Soil is just Dirt. A dead substance that has no value to therefore be protected. This leads to massive soil pollution and a decrease in untouched landfills. This gets especially interesting when put in comparison to how we perceive water as a resource. The pollution of our oceans has been massively criticized and the necessity of water for our lives has been established all over the world. 

Soil is just as important and elemental for our survival as water. It’s where our food grows, where oxygen gets produced, and is the land we live on. But this value is not acknowledged in today’s society. 

One aspect of urban gardening is the education about soil, its value, and the harm we are currently causing to it (microplastic, overbuilding, etc.). People who live in cities need to be resensitized about the value of soil before they can start to appreciate gardening. 

This can be done in many ways. Workshops for example where people get introduced to gardening projects, how those work, and what the risks/rewards are. They learn how vital it is to learn about soil and how fulfilling it can be to produce your own food. 

You could also host exhibitions with exemplary projects about local plants, and teach what flora and fauna are native.

Links on the topic