Vegetables and Social Relations in Norway and the Netherlands

A Comparative Analysis of Urban Allotment Gardeners

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Wageningen University esther.veen@wur.nl
  • 2 Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research sebastian.eiter@nibio.no
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Abstract

This article aims to explore differences in motivation for and actual use of allotment gardens. Results from questionnaire surveys and semistructured interviews in two Norwegian and one Dutch garden show that growing vegetables and consuming the harvest is a fundamental part of gardening. The same is true for the social element—meeting and talking to other gardeners, and feeling as part of a community. Although gardeners with different socioeconomic backgrounds experience gardening to some extent similarly, access to an allotment seems more important for gardeners with disadvantaged personal backgrounds: both their diets and their social networks rely more on, and benefit more from, their allotments. This underlines the importance of providing easy access to gardening opportunities for all urban residents, and disadvantaged groups in particular. Public officers and policy makers should consider this when deciding upon new gardening sites or public investments in urban food gardens.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Esther J. Veen works as a teacher for the Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands. She teaches courses on the sociology of food and eating. Dr. Veen did her PhD research on community gardening in the Netherlands, studying the social effects of food growing in urban areas and the degree to which such gardens can be seen as alternative food networks. She is interested in food in the city, and the ways in which food provisioning is given shape within the rhythms of daily life. E-mail: esther.veen@wur.nl

Dr. Sebastian Eiter is a geographer and landscape ecologist. He is employed as a Research Scientist in the Department of Landscape Monitoring at NIBIO, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. His recent research topics include causes and consequences of agricultural landscape change, cultural heritage, biodiversity, public participation, and urban agriculture. E-mail: sebastian.eiter@nibio.no

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