Gábor Rosta - Urban Gardens

When did you decide to work on urban gardening projects?
I published a book called The Farm in the City, in which I already wrote about agricultural practices applied in the urban context. I thought that these practices should be popularised in Hungary as well. I have been dealing with urban gardening ever since, in addition to my teaching position at the university.

What difficulties did you encounter and how did you solve them?
There were no urban agricultural precedents in Budapest at the time. Therefore, resolving the related legal and planning issues proved particularly troublesome and finding an accommodating local government, who would allow the installation of a trial garden, was not much simpler either. At the end the government of Kispest district agreed to be the first host, resulting in the creation of the First Kis-Pest-Kert.

What do you consider to be the most important results from your work?
We have created the first community garden, which established the legal processes, community-building and communication steps as well as the first garden design principles, with which we could build a similar garden with any other local government.

What motivates you in creating gardens/projects?
We are in an economic-crisis infiltrated with various processes which drive our communities into poverty. Promoting a more self-sustenance based culture and stronger community spirit could bring us a few small steps closer to a more resilient lifestyle. The Hungarian society is in great need of improved neighbourhood communities; and communal gardens could be a great place to facilitate the interactions needed for these.

Where would you like to see yourselves in 5 years time? What are your future plans?
I hope that in five years time our association will have won some central (local or national) grants/support, similarly to how these projects are financed in other significant cities of the world. I also hope that the politicians will finally approve of self-sustenance as a basic human right and that, therefore, related initiatives should be supported by the government. It would be great if we could create around a hundred gardens by five years time, so that they would become an integral and well supported aspect of the city.

In what areas do you think you could best work together with other organizations?
I believe that we already have a good working relationship with local communities and starting next year we will already construct a few gardens with self-organized community groups.

Gábor Rosta
College teacher, president of the Urban Gardens Association