Integration of allotment garden in public green space for the social wellbeing of urban residents : a study of Ekebydalen allotment garden, Uppsala, Sweden
Abstract: Background: Agriculture is among the relevant factors for the formation of cities and it has been an integral part of city life throughout history. Despite the increase in population growth, urban agriculture can offer a unique opportunity for improving the livelihood of individuals through the practice of growing food in urban green spaces. Nevertheless, maintaining urban green spaces as part of the urban fabric presents a unique challenge in an environment where there is a shortage of housing and urban space is limited for development. Allotment gardens might be seen as compensation for the lack of green space and private gardens in cities, especially in dense urban areas. However, due to the long waiting list for renting out, not everyone can get access to growing locally cultivated food and other benefits, especially people who are less privileged and cannot afford private gardens. Objective: The aim of this thesis, therefore, was to design a proposal for urban green space, Ekebydalen, to show how to integrate allotment gardening with other social activities. Also, as an input to the proposal, the history of allotment gardens and the theory of sustainable wellbeing was reviewed, and local public participation was investigated. Method: Literature was extensively reviewed in an attempt to identify relevant studies and better understand the context and characteristics of allotment gardens from a social and environmental context, the change in its land use, and accessibility; all in the perspective of the general development of urban agriculture and specifically in allotment movement through history in Sweden. Moreover, Site observation was conducted in a purposely selected allotment garden, Ekebydalen, Uppsala city. Also, an online and paper-based self-administered cross-sectional survey was done among 40 participants. Result: 6 different allotment gardens were observed and characterized. Based on the case study (observation), the Ekebydalen allotment garden was chosen as the main site for further pro-posal development. (60%) of the respondents in the survey were middle-aged (30 -50 years old) women (77.5%), most of them with university education (88%) and Swedish background (90%). Despite the participants has reported living in close proximity to the gardens, around a fourth of them reported having waited for more than six months. Gardening and nature interest (100%), socializing (15%), food complement (62%), and maintaining wellbeing (65%) are the motivation for renting allotment gardens. Conclusion: This thesis argues that the economic and wellbeing values of allotment gardens are perceived as highly significant compared to the social benefit that is allegedly seen less. Nevertheless, the social value can be seen as equally important if integrated as an activity with other social activities in a city, especially in urban communities that don’t have enough space for gardening and are caught in their busy lives. Moreover, a design strategy was proposed to show how the allotment garden can be integrated as an activity for cultivation and recreation use (Cultivation park). This thesis has also implied that policy support, institutional recognition, and strong political will from policymakers and planners are required to bring urban agriculture into city planning for improving the quality of life for the people living and working in cities.
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