The capitalist system requires a tiered hierarchy founded on the myth that success is based on competition and hard work. Innate within the system is starvation and poverty. This is the true power of capital. As opportunities for workers decline, we must create new means for survival. Urban farming is a viable method to prevent starvation by increasing access to organic nutrient rich foods at a fraction of the cost. New and engaging farming models, such as Beyond a Construction Site, in Ljubljana are emerging to set precedence for land use and community engagement.
According to a study done by the US Department of Agriculture, approximately one in seven households in the United States regularly suffer from hunger. These facts have been absurdly marginalized by the bureaucratic departmental re-terming of hunger to “food insecure” in 2006, as if the erasure of the term makes the issue obsolete. As the economy shows little sign of improvement, hunger will become more pervasive.
Conversely, according to worldhunger.org, though the world population has increased, there is enough food produced worldwide to provide each person 2,720 kilocalories per day. This is more than the average individual dietary caloric needs. Why then are there almost one billion people hungry and starving? The profound disconnect between food production and availability is unacceptable.
Beyond a Construction Site, a thriving urban farm built on an abandoned construction site in a residential area of Ljubljana near the main train station, offers a concrete solution to this dilemma. Any one in the community can farm their own plot. Vegetable beds are made from recycled stones and wood and raised to prevent toxic contamination from the excavated site. Tools are shared. Each person must help maintain communal space, which is used for educational classes, art collaborations, and community harvesting events. Most importantly, people have direct access to organic and sustainable fruits and vegetables.
An obvious and easily identifiable marker of the economic crisis and over speculation has been the abundance of abandoned construction sites. These wastelands have become as ubiquitous as strip malls in suburbia. As properties are foreclosed on, contracts lost to bankruptcy, and ownership challenged in court; land is held in limbo. This provides profound opportunities.
Slovenia has a long history of agricultural land in urban areas, however Beyond a Construction Site is a shift in the paradigm. It is the only area there where plots are not privately owned. The city owns the land, leasing it to the community, free of charge on a year by year basis, with the understanding that when there is funding to build, the city will sell the land and the farm will likely have to move. They are currently exploring options for extended land grants. As crops must be sowed seasonally, the temporal nature of the grow space is adequate.
Glasgow based SAGE, Sow And Grow Everywhere, offer a solution in their modularized growing kits. Made from organically finished reclaimed wood and UV resistant polypropylene fabric, and including an organic growing mix, the kits can be quickly erected on any flat surface on underutilized land. They disassemble and reassemble easily and since they do not require a foundation or surface digging, they leave no impact on the land. Their modularity creates an interesting spatial condition, in that it allows for an infinitely expandable growing ground able to move as construction resumes, and new wastelands inevitably emerge. In short: the nomadic farm.Ljubljana
The paradigm must continue to shift. We must grasp the opportunity to develop community through sustainable, regenerative, and productive public space. The prevalence of worldwide starvation forces us to reexamine land use. It must provide access to basic needs. Hunger should be an excised phenomenon. We must eliminate destructive and archaic notions of ownership. Whether we grow over concrete, dirt, rubble, or rooftops, the people must reclaim the wasteland.