Research on Community Gardens in Vienna´s Communal Housing
Neighbourhood Garden Roda Roda Gasse

This research project commissioned by the Council of Vienna, department for Housing (MA50, Wiener Wohnbauforschung), will discuss the possibilities and conditions for community gardens in Vienna's Council Blocks based on the experiences in the neighbourhood garden Roda-Roda Gasse. This pilot project in the Oscar-Helmer-Hof in the 21th district in Vienna is the first community garden in a Council Block of the City of Vienna. On a previously unused lawn a community area and flower and vegetable beds were created, which are managed by 25 tenants and their families. The project was financed by "Wiener Wohnen" and the Department for Integration and Diversity (MA17). The construction of the garden and the support of the gardeners were provided by Verein Wirbel.

Neighbourhood gardens

Neighbourhood gardens are places that offer a group of interested tenants of a Communal Block the opportunity to enjoy working together in a garden. Via the activity of gardening social processes start emerging that can have many various positive effects on the participating people, the gardening community and the whole Block of Communal Flats. The garden with its events and possibilities to get active offers the opportunity of physical and social occupation of space. In recent years Austria has seen the development of various projects in quite a few counties all focusing on very different aspects: permaculture, intercultural dialog, environmental education, assistance for refugees and women's gardens.

Vienna is also a place where individuals, groups and care facilities are looking for space and the right of use. To help the idea of the community garden spread wider in Vienna there is a need for a top-down strategy in addition to the self-initiative of the gardeners. Besides the political good will towards Community gardens in principal it is necessary to support the wider development of Community Gardens with advice, guidance, specialist knowledge and financial help.

The results of the research project show that neighbourhood gardens have many positive effects on the gardeners and are an important contribution to the neighbourhood. The Community Garden can have a preventive effect on conflicts within the Council Block, when the learning process of sharing and working together in the garden is put into action by the gardeners in normal day to day life.

Guidelines for neighbourhood gardens in municipal housung estates

As part of the research project a guideline for neighbourhood gardens was created. These guidelines are based on the experiences gathered during the project on the neighbourhood garden in Roda-Roda-Gasse in Vienna's Strebendorf and a number of intercultural gardens in Vienna and Germany. The guidelines give general conditions that are vital for the success of neighbourhood gardens and offers additional information for expansions of a neighbourhood garden project.

Neighbourhood gardens are governed by certain ground rules. Some rules were taken over from other neighbourhood gardens and introduced to the pilot project Roda-Roda-Gasse by the support team, others developed during the first 2 years of the project based on day to day experiences and social processes in this garden. The following ground rules and principles are recommended for garden projects in council estates.

  • Considerate treatment of soil and plants. Organic gardening
  • Considerate and caring treatment of each other is a central requirement for a good community.
  • Everybody contributes to the garden according to their abilities and opportunities.
  • Communal areas and communal activities are very important for a community.
  • To work towards acceptance and understanding of each other's cultural differences and ways of life.
  • Promotion of egalitarian structures through participation in democratic processes.
  • Independence of the individual with regards to the arrangement and use of their beds.
  • Conflicts are welcome opportunities for development.

The ground rules and principles should be made clear to everybody. Only like this is it possible for all the participants to claim their own space and at the same time commit to a strong community. Especially key figures (such as support team, executive committee and advisory council) should follow these principles and make sure they are the basis the community is built on. Structures and functions should be very simple and transparent so that bureaucracy can be kept to a minimum and participation is as easy as possible.
  • Project partners
    Kompetenzzentrum für soziale Arbeit (KOSAR)
    Verein Wirbel
  • Project team
    Christoph Stoik and Julia Emprechtinger (KOSAR);
    Kirsten Förster, Sonja Gruber, Rita Mayrhofer, Susanne Staller, Heide Studer (Wirbel)
  • Duration
  • Contact
  • Downloads
  • Abstract 18.68 KB
    Projektbericht 1.63 MB german only