Green shoots in vacant plots? Urban agriculture and austerity in post-crash Ireland
In recent years in the global North Urban agriculture (UA) has grown in prominence in response to shrinking cities, “degrowth” agendas and the failure of neoliberal development models. These concerns are amplified in the context of the recent global economic downturn. Within the context of numerous unfinished developments, vacancy has become an at once more visible and politicised feature of post-crisis cities. In this paper, we draw on a qualitative study of urban gardeners in Dublin to offer an analysis of the growth in, and motivations behind, UA and its relationship to vacant space following the crisis. Our core argument is two-fold: Firstly, practices of UA, while deployed as a stop-gap between development booms, have potential to challenge the normalcy of neoliberal urban development models. Secondly, while the motivations behind those participating in UA are reflective of the immediate material conditions of crisis (e.g. unemployment), they are also indicative of more deep-seated desires to re-calibrate values and lifestyles in the post-crash period. Taken together, we conclude that UA has a role to play in contributing to a wider, more broad-based political platform seeking the re-animation of vacant space in the city.
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