Allotments: An alternative to green washing
The need for green
Most urban design proposals present images of slick lawns, green walls, and well-manicured gardens. Once delivered, these spaces require maintenance practices that are often unsustainable (economically and socially) in themselves. One such example is the green wall on Northumberland Street that requires the regular use of a crane. In my design for the Chandless estate, greenspace has become a crucial point of discussion for its noise-reducing and health benefits . If our urban realm is catering to everyone, then we must design for the young and old (Barton et al, 2010). In our urban life, reasons motivating urban greening including climate change, food security and Rapid Urbanization (Wolch et al, 2014). Although not without benefits, researchers have also found key problems with this urban-carpeting approach.
Researchers like Anguelovski (2016) have found inequalities in the socio spatial distribution of parks. Certain groups and areas have little access to high quality greenspace due to their race and class (Sister et al, 2010). As urban designers, we must move away from treating greenspace as magic brush tools. By Planning formal greenspace, we may maintain inequalities. For instance, this action proves to increase property value (Eckerd,2011). They described this action as green-gentrification and will negatively affect the diversity of communities (Shackleton and Blair, 2013). The Increase in economic value is usually due to the benefits that accompany the provision of greenspace. How then can we mitigate the gentrifying effects of providing greenspace?
A people driven approach
Planning mitigative actions in consonance, will mitigate the displacement of communities (Pearsall, 2012). Urban Allotments are usually spontaneous actions in left over brownfield sites. Although the ‘DIY’ aesthetics of these allotments may offend the sensibilities of a few people, the social importance of these spaces cannot be underestimated. Older people usually cultivate and supervise them. Young people also show an interest in working on allotments and Permaculture. Hence, we can view working on Informal allotments as a socially beneficial activity. This is because it has the potential to strengthen intergenerational relationships. Urban allotments go beyond slick images and represent real ways of living and being for the gardeners that cultivate them. Therefore, I passionately believe that community Allotments and gardening will provide a strong alternative to the gentrifying effects of greenwashing in the old Chandless estate.
Barton, H., Grant, M. and Guise, R., 2006. Shaping neighbourhoods. London: Spon.
Eckerd, A. (2011). Cleaning up without clearing out? A spatial assessment of environmental 691 gentrification. Urban Affairs Review, 47 (1), 31–59.
Pearsall, H. and Anguelovski, I., 2016. Contesting and Resisting Environmental Gentrification: Responses to New Paradoxes and Challenges for Urban Environmental Justice. Sociological Research Online, 21(3), pp.121-127.
Pearsall, H., 2012. Moving out or moving in? Resilience to environmental gentrification in New York City. Local Environment, 17(9), pp.1013-1026.
Shackleton, C. and Blair, A., 2013. Perceptions and use of public green space is influenced by its relative abundance in two small towns in South Africa. Landscape and Urban Planning, 113, pp.104-112.
Sister, C., Wolch, J., & Wilson, J. (2010). Got green? Addressing environmental justice in park 966 provision. GeoJournal, 75(3):229-248.
Wolch, J., Byrne, J. and Newell, J., 2014. Urban green space, public health, and environmental justice: The challenge of making cities ‘just green enough’. Landscape and Urban Planning, 125, pp.234-244.