STATE OF THE ART URBAN GARDENS IN ITALY & IN ROME THE ASSOCIATIONCEMEA del Mezzogiorno is an ONLUS (not for profit organization of social utility)placed in Rome and its action deals with disadvantaged young people, thepromotion of non formal education through training, the development of localcommunities and active citizenships. In its initiatives CEMEA del Mezzogiornoinvolves children, teenagers, parents and teachers through play and recreationalactivities, which are main tools of its work. Our main activities in Italy can besummed up in: training stages for educators, teachers, animators; educativecenters for children, teenagers and youngsters; artistic and cultural activitieswithin social programs; holidays and spare time centers; international exchanges;workshops outside compulsory education; ecological and environmentaleducation; exchanges with universities; national and international meetings andseminars; publishing activities (bulletins, books, reviews…)THE KEY WORDS OF OUR WORK.NON FORMAL EDUCATIONQuoting from the definition of UNESCO from 1997 Non Formal Education can bedefined as ‘any organized and sustained educational activities that do notcorrespond exactly to the definition of formal education. Non-Formal educationmay therefore take place both within and outside educational institutions, andcater to people of all ages. Depending on the country contexts, it may covereducational programs to impart adult literacy, basic education, for out-of-schoolchildren, life-skills, work-skills, and general culture. Non-formal education
programs do not necessarily follow the “ladder” system and may have differingdurations, and may or may not confer certification of the learning achieved.’LEARNING MOBILITYA learning process lived during an experience abroad, only apparently is aimed tomainly knowing the other (a person or a hosting society). In reality theintercultural process enables the cultural identity to develop, increasing selfawareness and auto determination, working as a catalyst of knowledge andcuriosity towards everything is different. These are fundamental bases for anactive citizenship in an European context. The active methodology is so exploitedto foster well being in all kinds of situation, good and bad, dimensions that arecoexisting in an intercultural learning and are based on the confrontation withdiversity. Learning through international mobility is therefore based on a growingprocess that takes into account a reality full of ups and downs, typical of anintercultural pathway.TRAINING ACTIVITIESThe training activity is based on 3 key words that refer to the methodology weuse: experience, reflection, action.Experience stands for the proposed activities that enable the participant to reflecton his/her own reaction, on his/her own way of relating to the others and to thetheme the participant is dealing with.The team of trainers helps the participant to abstract and to systemize thereflection in order to catch the elements of the learning process, to go deeper inthe theme and in the intercultural experience that follows.The action exceeds the borders of the training course and it represents theconscious choices that the participant will make of what learned when similardynamics will come up again.The CEMEA’s working methodology is based on a non violent and confidentlearning environment where participants’ contributions and reactions are not
judged and they become the subject of an attentive evaluation, listening, respectand self-assessment.ACTIVE METHODOLOGYThe active methodology is based on learning by doing, experimenting situations oractivities meant to encourage individual and group reflection, and the reflectionof the individual within the group. In a process of human growth towards theincreasing self-awareness, the active methodology allows the participants to learnabout themselves. It is a process based on the interaction with the group througha continuous input and feedback exchange; the participant is thus not an ‘emptybox’ using the training to get full of contents, but s/he assumes an active role forhim/herself and for the other people involved. Every proposed activity(simulations, games, knowledge games, sharing in small groups…) aims mainly atbuilding, together with the participants, an experience that can become an idea, ametaphorical bridge towards new activities and future experiences, keeping ongrowing and exploring. The active methodology refers to the development of thehuman being, as a process without a specific age span, as continue evolution,based on lifelong learning.CEMEA promotes the respect of people diversities, believing in everyones desireto better one self. Making this opportunity accessible to each individual isCEMEA’s main aim.CEMEA’s (Training Centers for Active Education Methods) educational activity,combined with the international learning opportunities offered by the EuropeanUnion, support participation, intercultural approach, local dimension and activecitizenship as basic elements for collective and individual actions.
We develop projects under the European programs: Youth in Action (International Youth Exchanges, European Voluntary Service, Training Courses, Youth Seminars and Networking) Leonardo da Vinci (Mobility and Learning partnership) Grundtvig (Learning partnership, Multilateral and Senior Volunteering) Europe for Citizens European Social Fund for Immigration European Social FundCEMEA del Mezzogiorno follows the meaning of Education for sustainabledevelopment (ESD) as stated by the UNESCO. ESD is not a particular programmeor project, but is rather an umbrella for many forms of education that alreadyexist, and new ones that remain to be created. ESD promotes efforts to rethinkeducational programmes and systems (both methods and contents). ESD affectsall components of education: legislation, policy, finance, curriculum, instruction,learning, assessment, etc. ESD calls for lifelong learning and recognizes the factthat the educational needs of people change over their lifetime.Following this principles CEMEA del Mezzogiorno is one of the partners in theOTESHA process, initiated by Pistes Solidaires in 2010. Starting with 2010 severalinternational projects have been carried on:THE OTESHA PROJECT: Multimeasure projects under the Youth in Action Programdealing with sustainable consumption (the International Youth exchange OTESHATASTE), transports and sustainable urbanization (OTESHA RIDE TOUR 1 & 2,International Youth Exchanges) and active citizenship (OTESHA INFLUENCE, atransnational youth initiative)
TRASH PROJECT #1: an International Youth exchange about waste and creativerecycling, held in Lisbon in 2011, to which will follow a TRASHproject #2 on thesame topic that will be organized in Italy by CEMEA del Mezzogiorno.O.P.E.N. (OTESHA PAN EUROPEAN NETWORK): a LONG TERM TRAINING COURSEabout education for sustainable development aiming to support the multiplicationof educational tools on ESD that will establish and reinforce an European networkof 7 associations involved in the field.EU’GO project is a part of the OTESHA process and an evolution of it.
THE CONTEXTITALYItaly is considered one of the most beautiful, romantic and distinct countriesthanks to its monuments, history, arts, old cities, food and traditions. Italy is the4th most visited country in the world.With more than 60 million inhabitants (according to 2011 municipal records(Anagrafe)1, its population density is higher than that of most Western Europeancountries.The most densely populated areas are the Po Valley, that encompasses nearly 8regions in the North west of Italy and cities like Milan, Turin, Piacenza, Bergamo,Brescia, Parma, Bologna and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, while1ISTAT - Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, National Istitute of Statistic.
vast regions are very sparsely populated, such as the Alps and Apennineshighlands, the region of Basilicata and the island of Sardinia.DEMOGRAPHYItaly used to be a country of mass emigration from the late 19th century. Theterm Italian diaspora refers to the large-scale migration of Italians away from Italyin the period roughly beginning with the unification of Italy in 1861 and endingwith the Italian economic miracle in the 1960s. The Italian diaspora concernednearly 25 million Italians and it is considered the biggest mass migration ofcontemporary times2.On the other hand during the Italian economic miracle Italy experienced a large-scale internal migration from the rural South to the industrial cities of the North.Whereas, from the 1980s Italy has experienced large-scale immigration for thefirst time in its modern history. According to the Italian government, there weremore than 4.6 million foreign residents, that make up some 7.5% of the totalpopulation updated on January 2011. ITALIAN POPULATION AGE BREAKDOWN (2004)2 Favero, Luigi e Tassello, Graziano. Centanni di emigrazione italiana (1861 - 1961)Introduction
Almost the 20% of the total population are over 65 years old (the third oldestcountry in the world after Japan and Germany), on the other hand the 17,5% ofthe total population are under 18 years old, thanks mainly to the massiveimmigration of the last two decades.ECONOMYSince World War II, Italy has developed from a mainly agricultural society into aworld industrial power. The economy is characterized by a large state sector, amass of family-owned businesses which are the backbone of the private sector,relatively high levels of protectionism, and strong regional differences.While the North is highly industrialized, the Mezzogiorno remains an exception.State attempts to attract new investment have met with success in areasimmediately south of Rome, but elsewhere organized crime has deterredinvestors and siphoned off state funds. THE URBAN/RURAL POPULATION SPLIT (2004)After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront itsenvironmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in theworld for ecological sustainability3. National parks cover about five percent of thecountry; barely a third of Italy’s land is arable and suitable for farming.3 Financial TimesWorld Desk Referencehttp://dev.prenhall.com/divisions/hss/worldreference/IT/environment.html
ROMERome is the capital of Italy, the capital of Lazio region and the principal town ofthe Province of Rome. It is also the countrys largest and most populated citywith over 2.7 million residents, plus 4.2 million persons that usually go to Romaevery day to work and live in the greater Rome area (which can be approximatelyidentified with its administrative province).According to the latest statistics conducted by ISTAT, approximately 9.5% of thepopulation consists of foreign residents, while hundreds of Romani gypsies live inillegal trailer camps on the citys outskirts and there is a growing population ofhomeless people in Rome, mostly not Italian and estimated at 7000.Being the capital city of Italy, Rome hosts all the principal institutions of thenation, like the Presidency of the Republic, the government, the Parliament, themain judicial Courts, and the diplomatic representatives of all the countries forthe states of Italy and the Vatican City; many international institutions are locatedin Rome.Although the economy of Rome is characterized by the absence of heavy industryand it is largely dominated by services, high-technology companies, research,construction and commercial activities (especially banking), and the hugedevelopment of tourism are very dynamic and extremely important to itseconomy.Rome is a modern and urbanized city, with a very huge metropolitan area, but ifwe compare the total population with the territory’s extension, Rome has one ofthe lowest population densities in Italy.In fact, almost 68% of its territory are green areas, not built up area. The 34% ofthis green territory is intended for agricultural practices and rural areas that arestill inside the urban borders: this makes Roma a unique city in Europe, one ofthe biggest agricultural cities.
Rome occupies the forth place in Europe as the greenest city. THE URBAN AREA OF ROMEAs we can see from the map, inside the urban borders the city green areas, asparks and empty areas, are very large. This makes Rome a city with a distinctgeographic conformation.
THE PHENOMENON OF URBAN GARDENS IN ITALYTo give a clear, universally accepted and one-dimensional definition to themodern urban gardens in Italy is quite complex. Also the translations might causesome misunderstandings.In Italian language there are two different translations for the ‘urban garden’:ORTO URBANO and GIARDINO URBANO, the first refers to a piece of land wherepeople cultivate vegetables, flowers, aromatic herbs and fruits in a urban context;the latter refers to the same things, but it can be addressed both to the greenpublic and private areas.Urban gardening in Italy is not a new phenomenon.Until the end of the XIXth century, Rome and other big Italian cities had still a rurallandscape, people cultivated inside the cities and urban gardens were verycommon. During the Fascist period the practice was supported and promoted inorder to pursue the idea of a Rural Italy, founded on agriculture. During thesecond world war the urban gardens became an important subsistence tool andtheir number grew sensibly.
The Italian economical miracle, 1950 - 1960, transformed urban gardening in aneconomical counterproductive practice and became a symbol of the lowerclasses; during this time the urban agricultural practices were developed inmarginal areas.In Italy, the phenomenon blasts in the 70’s when the citizens start to regainperipheral areas (river banks, contiguous or rail areas) or half-abandonedagricultural areas and to create shared community gardens. The majority of thethem in Italy don’t exceed 500 square meters.The modern urban garden has changed in Italy; taking care of a urban garden isnot only related to the production of food, but it has also a social, educational andhobby pastime dimension.The typical Italian urban gardener is described as being a man between 50 and 60years old, retired, worker, employee, craftsman. But younger people, men andwomen are recently getting involved in urban gardening, looking for newqualitative spare time activities and motivated to contribute to a urbansustainable development.Between the north and the south of Italy the situation is different.In the north of Italy we can find many public initiatives for creating UrbanGardens; the phenomenon is very spread and cities like Bologna, Milano, Modenaand Ferrara are the pioneers.
The public administrations have set aside portions of land and have organisedthem in both individual or shared pots for the citizens.On the Bologna municipality website there is a section dedicated to urbangardens with a registration procedure based on a waiting list system. The gardensare given to people based on a criteria of residency and a family component.Renting the land costs 50€ a year and it is considered a reimbursement to themunicipality for water and electricity.In the south of Italy the situation is not so developed, apart from some isolatedinitiative the phenomenon remains on a low-scale.
THE PHENOMENON OF URBAN GARDENS IN ROMERome has the characteristic of an agricultural city, with cultivated lands insidethe urban borders and an incredible number of parks and protected areas.During the XXth century it was possible to find gardens in the city center, just closeto the Coliseum or the Imperial Fori, annexed to small houses built with recycledmaterials, the so-called baracche.Today, in Rome the phenomenon of urban gardens is significant, many initiativesare becoming a political subject, a request from citizens for a better urbanenvironment in degraded areas.
Despite this, there is no support from the municipality for the creation of legalareas dedicated to urban gardening and the citizens and the organizations find alot of difficulties to start any legal urban garden initiative. The urban agriculturein Rome has still an informal character.Between 2003 and 2006 U.O. Promozione Agricoltura of Rome Capital Cityrealized the first urban gardens census, Census of Rome’s spontaneous gardens,dedicated to the informal gardens, that unfortunately does not contain acomplete status of the informal urban gardens.Another research, Recovery and use of the marginal and degraded areas ofRome was performed in 2008 by the Geographical Italian Society in collaborationwith the Capital of Rome and Tor Vergata University.Not before than 2010 the Municipality of Rome realizes the first park containingurban vegetable gardens. Today the park is temporarily managed by the " FossoBravetta" Association; a public announcement for its management is planned, butthe date hasn’t yet been established.Many citizens have booked their garden but the waiting list counts a lot ofreservations and this initiative is not enough for the demand, moreover rules andregulation don’t exist though they are critical in this context.The Municipality has a dedicated urban garden department, the UNITA’OPERATIVA ORTI URBANI, that is working for the creation of 2 other public areasfor urban gardens but there aren’t any concrete results yet, nor has theMunicipality begun establishing the public regulations.Another recent urban gardens public initiative is the Public green areas adoption(2011), an initiative of the Municipality of Rome who intends to involve citizens,associations and neighbourhood committees in the maintenance of urbanabandoned public green areas.
Rome lacks a tradition regarding urban gardens administration or a urbangardens management frame. The urban agriculture in Rome has remainedunrecognized, unsupported and unregulated until a few years ago.The Roman urban agriculture maintains still a strong informal character whichmeans that the urban gardens are created and managed without a rentingcontract or any other form of regulation for land appropriation – all thecommunity gardens in Rome come from citizens or associations’ initiatives, andthe private sector starts to be interested in it.Rome’s municipality came late to understand the multiplicity of values andmeanings connected with the urban gardens, especially the value of creatingrelationships between citizens that the urban gardens facilitate.Given the history path of the Roman urban gardens, the urban gardeners arecalled the new Don Quixotes.A bill on the urban agriculture was presented by the Lazio Region in 2008, but isnot approved yet. Now in collaboration with the Province of Rome, the twoinstitutions are working on a legislative framework, due also to the directinvolvement of the Province of Rome in the field of Social Agriculture.Thanks to the work of studioUAP, an organisation dedicated to the architecture ofpublic spaces and the active participation, that implemented Zappata Romanaproject4, Rome has now a map containing more than 70 community gardens,community edible gardens and guerrilla spot gardens. Adding the 67 urbangardens identified by the Municipality of Rome.4 www.zappataromana.net
THE MAP OF ZAPPATA ROMANA ROROMANAIn Rome the community-run green areas are more than 100: 51% of them are public parks and gardens where citizens take care ofportions of public green. 26% of them are community gardens or community shared gardens,created for a social or pedagogical purposes. 22% are hot spot gardens, created by “guerrilla gardening” actions The so-called guerrilla gardeners carry out their actions at night, in relative secrecy, to sow and tend a new vegetable patch or flower garden.
THE NETWORKCEMEA del Mezzogiorno has identified different categories for Rome’s urbangarden initiatives: social urban gardens - urban gardens as social intercultural spaces, newly-born citizens’ initiatives and farmers federation which aims to create shared community gardens. educational urban gardens - urban gardens dedicated to food education and environmental education projects, agricultural game room and agricultural summer camps. theatre laboratory urban gardens – the art of theatre and the art of gardening drawn together for food education activities and a social place for concerts. biological gardens with an integration purpose (social and educational Farm) – social rehabilitation projects for integration and for re-enabling people with disabilities by using the practice of gardening. Mixed gardens areas – Social farms placed in peri-urban areas which run inclusion activity for disabled people, Famer’s market with an educational or therapeutic garden and private farmers factories which rent the land to citizens.These 5 categories show us that the practice of urban gardening can be asdiverse as its gardeners.
THE FORUM OF SOCIAL FARMS OF THE PROVINCE OF ROMEThe Province of Rome, specifically the handicap sector, has created in 2006 a provincial Forum of Social Farms, which adheres to the National one. The Forum of Social Farms is composed of factory farms or social cooperatives which gather together the practice of agriculture and the orthoterapy with an integration and socio- rehabilitation purpose. They carry out a social service, due to the recognition to this therapies’ methods. In Italy a scientific recognition of its benefits is ongoing. The Province of Rome supports and promotesthe social agricultural with studies, researches and technical assistance to theadherents farms.THE URBAN GARDENS OF CAMPAGNA AMICA:The project was born in 2010 in order to promote andsupport the practice of urban gardening made by citizens.Due to the proliferation of urban gardens in Italy, theFoundation aims to offer its expertise and its network offarmers and nursery to people who wanted to learn and actas sustainable consumers and citizens. Each garden has torespect the values of Campagna Amica that are the support to the local agriculture, a sustainable consumption, the respect for the environment and for the biodiversity. CAMPAGNA AMICA created also an educational and demonstrative garden
inside a Farmer’s Market, placed in the city centre, in order to embellish and liventhe external court of the farmer’s market. Its creation is linked to the purpose ofmaking aware the consumers of environmental and healthy food issues. TheMarket is united to a garden placed in the court as a demonstration that urbangardening can be done everywhere.ORTI URBANI GARBATELLA:One of the first initiative of urban gardens inRome. After 15 years of environmental actionsfor the right to a greener city andneighbourhood, in 2009 a group of associationsand citizens started to cultivate a piece of landjust behind the base of Lazio Region. Today thegarden counts on more than 60 individuals anddifferent organisations, that are still waiting theassignation of the land from the Municipality. They organise many activities associal events, Permacultura training, Japanese garden training, and there aresome good examples of inclusion activities for disabled people and migrants.ORTI GARIBALDINI – CASALE GARIBALDIA group of citizens from the 6th Municipio of Rome well organised who aresearching for a non-contaminated area in order to create an urban garden. Themovement was born in 2011 and counts 143 citizens involved today and in different way active for creating a legal area. There have been already two lands found and good for gardening, but after an analysis of the soil they found that it is contaminated. Now they are trying to depurate the land with some
plants, but this system lasts long time. They have inaugurated the ORTODIDATTICO CASALE GARIBALDI where every weekend they organise social andtheatre events.They are organised on an horizontal system and the communications are based ona mailing list, website, a facebook page and meeting in a restaurant or socialassembly. The organisation of this group can suggest a method of work. They alsoinvented the “nursery widespread”, seeds in pots that have been distributed tothe group’s members and when it’s time they will plant those vegetables there.ORTO DIDATTICO S.M.S. S. BENEDETTOIn 2009 in the Medium School S. Benedetto a teacher started a thematic projectlinked to agro biodiversity. Theoretical activities and practice ended with a showcalled “Sounds from the earth” that had a garden integrated. From that time shecontinues the laboratory and she has integrated the theatre. Urban garden andtheatre are the main educational tools of a teacher that runs a garden inside thisschool all by herself.ORTO SOLIDALE S.CATERINAThe project was born in 2009 from a parishioner of S. Caterina who convinced theMother Superior of the convent that owns the field to grant it with a gardening goal to a group of families. The initiative has immediately been thought as a source of income for La Cometa, a catholic association with solidarity projects, and, at the same time, as an opportunity to provide a service to the parishioners and
to foster the relations and initiatives. At the beginning the project was involvingless than 10 families. After a little time, the requests multiplied until reachingtoday a saturation point of the gardens.AMICI DELLA TERRA URBAN GARDEN A garden created 3 years ago by some citizens and one old man that fell in love with the practice of gardening. The garden is in the middle of the city, hidden by the buildings and placed on old railways and vegetables produced from it are given as a present to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Today it ismanaged by 2 women and 2 men, one of them is the same from the beginningand they organise paths for blind persons and vegetable dances that help thegrowing of vegetables.Even if the garden is not legally recognised they continue to work in it and theyare organising educational activities for the school.
ZOLLE URBANE A group of citizens that practice the “agricivism” philosophy (see after) in Acilia, a suburban area of Rome. They have two areas: one in a shared garden where they organise summer camps and activities for children and disabled people with a synergic garden and also workshopson recycling. The second is a big area for which they asked the assignation 1 yearago, without result still. They work with urban gardens in one of the mostcharacteristic areas of Rome. Until 1960’s Acilia was considered the countryside ofRome, today the building speculation has transformed this area in a suburb ofRome; there are still agricultural area and farms, many houses have their privategarden but most of the inhabitants go to Rome to work and Acilia remains adormitory neighbourhood.FERMENTI DI TERRA. The PIGNETO’S URBAN GARDEN Pigneto neighbourhood is historically characterised by the mix of the poor and the popular that nowadays has received new young trends open to an artistic and cultural ferment. The urban gardenwas born on the 8th of October 2011 from an individual initiative. The main aim ofthe urban garden was the establishment of a public shared space through aconcrete and not mediated action of an informal group that, on a voluntary base,is in charge of taking care of a little productive area whose fruits are at all peopledisposal.
Another aim has been to favour social cohesion and make the population awareof a more responsible use of the public spaces. Another aim was to spread theculture related to the agriculture, to increase the direct relationship with the landand to promote the production of our own food, mostly among the younggenerations that otherwise don’t have the possibility to come in contact with thisreality.The urban garden includes two big initiatives:THE OPEN SPACE: Small neighbourhood parties are organised and vegetables areoffered to the people.THE GARDEN IN THE KINDERGARTEN: This practice aims to stimulate the learningof pre-school aged children through educational activities that increase their carefor the environment. The laboratory is divided in two parts: 1. There are practical educational activities that stimulate the contact with the natural elements and teach about the relationship between cultivation – production – nutrition. 2. With the help of children’s parents, a garden is realised and managed further on with the children, by experiencing the concrete practice of gardening and concepts like ecological cycle, ecosystem, metabolism.IL FIORE DEL DESERTO Il Fiore del deserto was born as a residential home for adolescent girls in 2000, in order to answer with new practices to the new poverty, to the marginalization of people and the social exclusion reality of that time. Nowadays different activities and projects are carry out in order to train and give the opportunity for integration to boys and girlsthat live a situation of social exclusion. The urban garden has also a restaurantand other semi-residential structures connected to it for youngsters of differentages and nationalities.
There are organized concerts, artistic and manual work-shops for youngsters withdisabilities or social problems.The structure is located in the Natural Reserve ofMarcigliana, just out of the urban borders of Rome.In 2010 the organization created the first Agroclubof Italy, from an idea of the agronomist FrancoPaolinelli, aiming to promote social activities linkedto environmental problems or social problems andfor making available green areas for leisure time toexternal people.TERRA D’ORTOThe organization TERRA D’ORTO ONLUSwas born in September 2010, followingthe pedagogy of Don Luigi Guanello, apriest that lived at the end of 1800’sbeginning of 1900’s, who worked for therehabilitation, the inclusion and theassistance of disabled people. One of themost important actions was the professional and social integration of disabledpeople through agricultural activities: the Casa Santa Rosa structure is one of thefirst initiatives. The association has the headquarter at Casa Santa Rosa base inthe Regional Park of Appia Antica and it aims to promote social, training, sports,leisure, job and integration activities for disabled people and in general peoplewith physical and social malaise.Therefore the gardening activities are one of the main aims and tools they use fortherapeutic purposes (horticultural therapy).The newest project is the opening of a shared community garden in which familiescan cultivate the land for their subsistence and aims to open the activities of theorganization to a larger public.
OTHER INITIATIVESOther initiatives have been set up by private organizations, sector’s organizationor directly factory farms.For example the Italian Confederation of Farmers (CAI) created the network ofSocial Farms, almost the same of the one of the Province of Rome, but they areorganized like a private system.It exists also another modality by which factory farms and agriculturalcooperatives are starting to be involved in the field of urban gardening. Thesystem is based on a renting contract of their land to citizens who want to have aurban garden.This private use of agricultural land, as well as the offer of agricultural therapyservices, is transforming the primary mission of the agriculture, service insteadof production and, in a way, it supports and makes the agricultural activity moresustainable, in an economically and sociable way.
THE SOCIAL AGRICULTURETo create a community garden helps combating new forms of alienation thatplague modern urban life by contributing to urban quality and by developingsociability and meeting occasions between citizens as well as enhancing solidarityand increasing exchange experiences.To run a community garden develops self production and self organizationmodels based on the different needs, facilitates human relations by becoming aplace for recreational and cultural initiatives. Moreover the knowledge aboutgardening and its practice in urban context contribute to the reintegration of oldpeople and reduce the gap between the young generation and the old generation.The practice of urban gardening is a true multifunctional “social laboratory”, itresponds to the citizens’ desire for a greener and sustainable city and to the needof more united social relationships.This is the so called Social Agriculture which has been describe as a new form ofsocial movement that produces relational goods, immaterial ones that increasethe social capital of the community.Franco Paolinelli’s vision (an agronomist involved in the phenomenon) talks abouta demand of rurality expressed by citizens from urban areas.Rome can be considered a “sprawltown”. The urban sprawl is a multifacetedconcept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to itsoutskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, highsegregation of uses and various design features that encourage car dependency.The word calls to mind a host of troublesome issues such as city tight, runawaysuburban development, and the conversion of farmland to soulless housingdevelopments. In “Sprawltown”, architectural historian Richard Ingersoll makesthe surprising claim that sprawl is an inevitable reality of modern life that shouldbe addressed more thoughtfully and recognized as its own new form of urbanismrather than simply being criticized and condemned. He states that we have to re-
think the common division between urban areas and countryside, the first insideand the latter outside. The new conception is to think about countryside insidethe urban areas. With the concept of “Agricivism” he supports a new type ofpolicies that provides cultivated land inside the city: to garden and to cultivatemeans take care, in this way the citizens develop a sense of belonging of theurban areas and the green inside them.“Agricivism” requires active citizenship and this active participation makes more“urban” each area because it creates new social relationships, it can satisfiy localneeds and can involve people with fewer opportunities.The practice of urban gardening is an action of Agricivism, a urban garden is aform of active citizenship where people can share and meet each other,transforming and renewing the anonymous city and developing socialrelationships.