Visions of VU’s Green Campus: Interrogating the Potential of Urban Gardening, Agriculture, and Farming
Ongoing processes of urbanization in anthropogenic times pose questions about the future of sustainable cities. Growing cities globally face a host of issues, including increased poverty and inequalities, pollution, heat stress, decreased water retention, declining biodiversity, and questions on how to feed rapidly increasing numbers of urban dwellers.
Greening cities might provide solutions for these problems. Urban gardening, also called community gardening, for example, is recognized to promote mental health benefits to urbanites and stimulate social cohesion, while providing educational and economic opportunities, and ecological benefits. Meanwhile, urban agriculture, for example in high-rise vacant office buildings, can contribute to urban food systems as a cost-effective, and energy and space-efficient innovation. At the same time, however, urban farming initiatives are often framed as small-scale alternatives to such agri-industrial food production systems. These latter initiatives have gained traction in light of disturbed food value chains and rising food prices (e.g. due to COVID, and the war in Ukraine), but also as (multi-species) nodes of resistance against capitalist ruination.
The VU Amsterdam’s campus is a living lab through which we can take stock of all these approaches. We do so by taking as lens networks, initiatives and teaching projects that work and think on a Green Campus at the VU. By tapping into and bringing together these networks, initiatives and projects, we map the opportunities and challenges of a Green Campus.
- Thijs Schut, Post-doctoral researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences
- Ellen Bal, Associate Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences
- Soesja van Wijgerden, Active8-Planet, VU
- Karen Verduijn, Associate Professor, Management and Organization, School of Business and Economics
- Harry Wels, Associate Professor, Department of Organization Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences