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For a long time urban horticulture has represented a marginal activity generally for the elderly, after their retirement or as a part-time activity, as opposed to a main economic activity. However, in the context of post-modern society, horticulture is becoming more popular and more visible, as an activity with educational or rehabilitation purposes or as a hobby for highly motivated gardeners, individuals or groups, with no previous experience but keen to experiment with cultivating practices.
The interest in urban gardening has grown considerably, assuming many forms and characteristics in different contexts both at global and local levels. The phenomenon seems to be a response to a wide range of needs that goes well beyond the production of food, as it often contributes to promote social inclusion, as well as protection and restoration of urban green areas.
For many people taking care of a vegetable patch or a garden is a great way to rediscover their bond with nature, to let off steam and get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. At the same time allotment gardens become a meeting place for the elderly or turn into an outdoor classroom where children can discover nature’s way of teaching. Even more important perhaps is when vegetable gardens are located in healthcare facilities and used for their therapeutic function, thus providing support and motivation during treatment or rehabilitation. And so it seems as though garden plots are becoming a bottom-up strategy to combat the limitations and paradoxes of the current economic model.