Finnish start-up Blockgarden, the third sector youth action group Inspis and the city of Lahti, facilitate good practice of sharing economy and urban gardening.
By organizing space and possibilities for urban gardening can help to inspire city dwellers to engage in urban farming and to learn more about the sharing economy.
The main stakeholders are the municipality rental housing company Lahden Talot, urban farming enterprise Blockgarden and the third sector youth action group Inspis, which provides support with low threshold entry-level work for young people at risk of exclusion and long-term unemployment.
Urban farming supports the environmental strategy of Lahden Talot and aims to have positive effects on both residents and the environment. That is why Lahden Talot wanted to give its residents the opportunity to grow their own vegetables.
Lahden Talot provided the space in some of their rental housing estates, and Blockgarden delivered 14 gardening boxes filled with various salads, edible flowers, zucchini, and herbs. Inspis ensured care and irrigation for the urban garden with residents, organized harvesting events and invited citizens to join in the action and joy of urban farming.
One plant box (80X60 cm in size) consists of soil, seeds, and a mobile application with a gardener guide to ensure a successful harvest and flourishing growth. The most popular seeds and plants are Italian inspired tomatoes and herbs. Blockgarden delivered the boxes to the residential area of municipal housing apartments in Lahti on the 26th of May 2020 and picked them up after the final harvest in October for soil recycling and storage.
Lahden Talot offered the space for the gardening boxes and paid for them. Inspis volunteered their time to take care of the plants during the summer with the help of residents.
One box (incl soil, seeds, and mobile app) costs 120€.
Inspis employs young people through wage subsidies.
Evidence of success
This pilot urban vegetable garden got positive feedback from residents. Corona time has increased people's desire to have comfortable courtyards with interactive activities. As cities and urbanization keep growing, citizen's connection to nature and promoting sustainable and urban food production is more critical than ever. By implementing city farming and urban gardens, gives possibilities for citizens to increase well-being and sustainability.
Potential for learning or transfer
The practice's general feedback was positive; the mobile app was a success as it reminded residents of gardening duties. The residents were thrilled with the harvest. However, residents desired a wider seed selection and diversity of plants. Also, colourful box designs were desired.
Citizen's and third sector association Inspis’ active role in this circular and sharing economy practice is fundamental.
In 2015, Inspis implemented a similar project, maintaining a few gardening boxes in the city of Lahti solely on a voluntary basis.
Also, Kesanto (the Fallow - other CECI Good Practice) offers the possibility for urban gardening at their location in Sopenkorpi, Lahti, Finland.