Mobile Urban Gardens in Upcycled Parcels
June 28, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Welcome the itinerant gardener, not the one who travels from plot to plot, but the one whose community gardens travel from spot to spot. We’ve written about mobile gardens before, but these self-contained gardens go beyond being simply plant-growing mobile allotments, they are often constructed using reclaimed and upcycled items like rail cars, buses, trucks, bikes, and even an airplane.
In addition to producing fresh produce and flowers, these portable spreads also cultivate communities, bringing residents together to sow and harvest where they would not normally have the space or opportunity to do so.
One of these gardeners on the move is Annechien Meier, a Dutch environmentalist, artist, and gardener from The Hague, whose energy-free community garden, made up of a wooden platform on rubber wheels can be towed manually and parked anywhere.
Meier hopes to stimulate curiosity, confront people about the environment and ultimately engage them in doing something constructive. She has employed an number of specially manufactured and reclaimed objects in her quest to bring awareness to people’s impact on the environment.
Housed in a pond at the Norbotten Museum during the northern Sweden Lulea Summer Biennial, Meier worked with the theme of technology and nature to create Mobile Allotment Garden II, upcycling a city bus which she outfitted with a rooftop community garden.
Meier’s vegetable garden was organized into squares and straight lines–in homage to limits imposed by Dutch neighborhood allotment laws.
For the Geumgang Nature Art Biennale in South Korea, Meier planted her garden on the wings of an airplane. The idea, she says, began literally as a dream: flying a vegetable garden on the most beautiful plane she could imagine. Visitors can sit in the cockpit.
Meier recounts that she found it almost impossible to locate a plane. The project took on a bit of political charge: in South Korea, aviation, she observed, is in the hands of the army, and there is still leftover fear from the war with North Korea. Meier’s art project attempted to portray the transformation of war into peace: a former battle vehicle turned into a peaceful vegetable garden.
Apart from the installations of artists and environmentalists, there are the gardens of the anonymous horticulturists, like this one spotted in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where a “bumper” crop of tomatoes and peppers were growing in a greenhouse on the back of his truck.
Now, if only they delivered!