A history of greenspace and parks A history of greenspace and parks
by David Thorpe,
illustrations by Hunt Emerson

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city farm parkie  Ninth Street Garden, in the heart of an East Village
Above: Ninth Street Community Garden, in the heart
of New York's East Village

Communities growing food together is not a new thing.

Early agricultural systems were co-operative activities, with land, tools and harvest all shared. As cultures have developed, ownership of land tended fall into fewer hands.

Until the second world war it weas not uncommon for households to keep pigs and hens and other livestock in towns and cities. But soon after, it was possible for the first generation of children to grow up without seeing livestock and being directly aware of where their food came from.

A remedy

St James City Farm, Gloucester
Above: St James City Farm, Gloucester.
During the 1960s, some community groups saw derelict land in their neighbourhood and decided that it should be used as a community garden - a place that is run by the community to meet their own needs.

Over the years more and more community gardens were established, although many depended on short-term lease agreements or indeed squatting.

In 1972 the first city farm was established in Kentish Town, London. This included gardening space and farm animals.

A city farm is simply a community garden with farm livestock.

Other city farms were subsequently set up across London and now there are 65 across the UK.

From the early 1980s onwards more permanent Community Gardens were set up and by the turn of the century there were at least 520 - and increasing!

The benefits

City farms and community gardens are commonly found in built up areas, where their creation was a response to the local communities' lack of access to green space.

They vary in size from 10m2 (the smallest community garden) to 39 hectares (the largest city farm).


More info

Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

--> Case study: Apple Court Community Garden
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