community gardens in Copenhagen

Following on from the last post about the exhibition Co-create Your City, now at the Danish Architecture Centre, and partly because - OK mainly because - the weather was so good over the weekend, I walked around Nørrebro, the area west of the lakes, looking at some of the community gardens. 

These are clearly thriving and what amazed me, coming from England, is that these gardens are completely open, in some cases right on the road itself, and in some of the most densely built-up parts of the city and yet there was no evidence of vandalism. What’s more - no signs saying do not leave litter - not a single sign - and yet no litter.

The effort to have these initiatives as community driven and the sense of community ownership clearly works.

A recent urban community garden Byhaven at Hørsholmsgade has been established alongside one of the main cycle routes into the city. There are raised beds filled with flowers, seats constructed within the raised beds and open areas with picnic tables. The gardeners have a good web site at Byhaven2200 that explains the work of their association and has a diary/blog that shows how the gardens have developed along with very useful information about how the association was set up. They also hold events including lectures that are listed on their web site.

At Guldbergsgade there are gardens neatly laid out with sheds and individual plots and in the large triangular area east of those gardens is ByOasen where there are more raised beds, benches carved from large logs, picnic tables, all kinds of play equipment for kids and a small zoo with chickens, goats and hamsters. There may well have been other animals but there were so many toddlers scrabbling around happily in the dirt with the chickens it was a bit difficult to tell what was in there.

A little boy, no more than 2 years old, was being shown how to pick up a chicken gently with hands either side of the body. He got that but hadn’t quite worked out which end was which … the chickens clearly didn’t mind as being carried around upside down meant they could watch for worms and wiggle free as soon as they saw something worth eating.

A little further along the same street a traffic-calming system had been used as a good place to lay out a small but densely packed garden. Again it was obvious that no one even considered vandalism a possible problem.

As I was on Guldbergsgade I took the time to wander around the Jewish cemetery. Very beautiful and very peaceful in the middle of a busy, bustling part of the city … a moving testament to a community that has been well established in Copenhagen since the 17th century.