Development of social gardening in Graz: Concepts and the relation to food justice
The project deals with the question, whether and to what extent social/community gardening can contribute to food justice: How especially socially stigmatised people can improve their access to and consumption of healthy food (= sustainably produced food, balanced, "healthy" nutrition) or how this can be improved structurally.
Social gardening as a practice has proven as valuable in many areas of self-organised or assisted community work and development, and represents a component of sustainable, smart urban development. In the course of a preliminary exploration within the Food Lab Graz initiative, it was revealed that potentials for social gardening in Graz are not (or can not) be fully exploited.
Against this background, this research project aims at a comprehensive review of social gardening in Graz. Social gardening (in the urban context as part of urban gardening) mainly occurs in the form of community gardens, but also has a crucial importance in community and educational work. Empirical studies show a differentiated picture of the extent to which social gardening can actually realise the many potentials attributed to it in the areas of inclusion/integration, education, democracy, conflict prevention, etc. Structural problems are the main obstacles for the development of these initiatives.
For the geographic area of the city of Graz, there is still no fundamental analysis of social gardening, although this practice increasingly spreads in Graz since 2010/2011 (before that there were individual initiatives).
A discourse that appears in international research but has hardly been explored in Austria (and thus also in Graz) in the context of social gardening is related to the concept of "food justice". Particularly in view of the Covid 19 crisis, but also against the background of ecological challenges for food production (climate crisis, biodiversity, etc.), the question of accessibility to ecological sustainably produced food for certain, especially low-income groups of the population (e.g. knowledge and price) is increasingly arising. Ecologically managed urban gardens make an important contribution to food supply (food security in the sense of food justice). Nevertheless, their importance for the community is often underestimated.