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Commons in Action

"Commons in action" is a joint program by the IASC and the Elinor Ostrom Award. The animation was done by the Viumasters. Get to know their work at

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Urban gardening

In an urbanized world, community gardens connect urban residents and constitute spaces for a commons management of urban resources. Therefore these buttom-up initiatives represent new forms of commons were inter alia urban space, urban resources as well as social time and knowledge are shared. Urban Gardening has become a rapidly growing international movement. Although cultivating food in urban areas played a significant role throughout history, there is a new sense of gardening in cities. A lot of new gardens emerge on vacant lots through bottom-up initiatives. On these shared and open spaces diverse communities grow food and flowers and share thereby often not only the space but also fruits, work, tools, infrastructure as well as knowledge. Therefore community gardens can be described as new commons: they are established, organized and managed collectively.

When applying collective action theory to these community gardens, it becomes evident that they are special in the motivation why people get organized. Particularly in developed countries, urban gardens emerge in response to a lack of participation in city development, democratic use of public spaces or opportunities and time for socializing.

Just one example of this community gardens is the garden project “Campusgarten GrüneBeete” in Münster. The garden was founded in 2014 by Nicole Rogge und Anna Rechenberger and was a result of two years previously started student-project. The garden is now institutionalized by the registered association “GrüneBeete e.V.”, involving not only students but all people who are interested in gardening. Therefore the garden is a very dynamic and open place, were collective action taking place not only through collective and sustainable management, but sharing all resources like tools, beds, the harvest, work, and social time.

Nicole Rogge
Personal webpage

Besides working as a practitioner in her garden project, Nicole Rogge conducts a PhD project on “Categorizing Urban Gardens: Collective Action in Community Gardens” at the Department of Agricultural-, Environmental and Food Policy of the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, led by Prof. Insa Theesfeld

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All photos courtesy by Nicole Rogge & GrüneBeete e.V., FH Münster/ Pressestelle

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