In England community gardens are referred to as allotments, dating back centuries and being a genuine artifact of social demands for land to grow food.
George McKay dissects the history and practice of community gardens to show the subversive kernel still buried in the plots.
- “Its anti-capitalism is most clear in two fundamental features of the allotment: firstly, the astonishingly low rents charged for plots by local authorities, which is a powerfully consistent rejection of spiraling urban land market values; secondly, the legislative fact that, by and large produce grown by allotmenteers cannot be sold commercially for profit. The standard treatment of a surplus or seasonal glut is to give it away: the allotment is predicated on a social and economic practice defined by, in David Crouch and Colin Ward’s term, ‘the gift relationship.’ In their view, an anarchistic ‘combination of self-help and mutual aid… characterizes the allotment world.’ Furthermore, it is a nationwide public socio-horticultural experiment that has endured and transformed itself for over a century, it is on the allotment, among the bean frames and sheds, the DIY glasshouses and the patchwork of dirty labour, that we should look for a quiet seasonal extremism…
As Thomas Jellis puts it, today, for many allotmenteers, their earthy work-leisure
- has come to express a tactical, grounded resistance to global capital and its negative environmental impact. Allotments and local foods can be seen as broader movements to re-localise and are often imagined as being in opposition to the conventional food system… Allotments are now also much more open, allowing women to sign-up and accepting people regardless of their nationality or background. This cultural multiplicity grants allotments resilience and durability, allowing them to adapt to change and disturbance. (http://www.processedworld.com/carlsson/nowtopian/book-reviews/thinking-about-growing-food)
Source: Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism & Rebellion in the Garden” (By George McKay, Frances Lincoln Limited Publishers, London: 2011).