Book Review – From The Ground Up: Community Gardens in New York City and the Politics of Spatial Transformation

Set within one of the most densely populated and expensive, real market estate, community gardens in New York City are visited by the least advantaged residents of the city.

I met with UEL lecturer Angie Voela as she recommended me to read the book called ‘From The Ground Up: Community Gardens in New York City and the Politics of Spatial Transformation’ written by Efrat Eizenberg after the UEL lecture on Food and Social Justice. I read this book based on how spaces are utilized by the urban residents to practice their horticultural activities, recreational activities, social gatherings and events about arts and culture. These gardens are well managed with independent leadership from the top to bottom managing the control. Despite receiving consistent threats from the market, these gardens have shown their ability to support the community since the 1970’s. The book explores on the various ways that urban residents can take charge, own the urban areas and make them appear in the image that can benefit the whole urban residence (From the Ground Up 2013).

The residents tried to protect these spaces resulting to various activists and community leaders. This book examines how every day, spatial practice; social interactions by taking an interdisciplinary approach consider the political developments of the urban residents. The book also examines the production of other forms of urban spacing and the generation of the new urban knowledge and skills that render community gardens into significant social actors in urban areas. The book poses an argument that the process of producing space brings about a new type of organic residence. The urban dwellers find opportunities to constantly engage in their activities in the urban environment find ways to make the city supportive to the challenges of urban living (From the Ground Up 2013). It also enable the residents to make the city resemble the activities they engage most, thus, making the city appear in their own image.

The book emphasised on how community gardeners encourages local residents to have an architectural identity in an urban space that act to make their dreams true and utilize potential opportunities to generate an social and economic advantage for the local community. In addition, to make as influential social actors in the urban residences, which I believe this book can influence my architectural design process on designing a space for residents to contribute in food growing.


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