Kipos3 (City as a Resource)

Urban vegetable gardens can grow in Thessaloniki entering the primary sector in the city and offering food, but also laying the foundations for the transition to a “green” economy. The ‘City as a resource’ is a proposal to create a network of urban vegetable gardens in the city of Thessaloniki. This project was the outcome of a workshop of the MLA Landscape Architecture School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The concept of the pilot project was to intervene in a residual urban space related to its residents, in a city (municipality) under economic hardship, with no access to infrastructure and funding. After the success of the pilot project which took place in the western part of the city of Thessaloniki (Lachanokipoi district), we decided to cooperate with the Municipality of Thessaloniki and the Department of Urban Environmental Management for the creation of an innovative urban vegetable gardening project in the city center. After mapping all the possible vacant spaces in the city center, the new project finally took place in 2014 at Doxa district, right next to the urban vineyard as a symbolic gesture to the new sustainable lifestyle of the city. The group consists of 10 gardeners, who grow their own vegetables under our supervision and support in a cultivating area of 80 m2  (total area 300 m2).The name of the project ‘Kipos3’ comes from the Greek word “kipos” (garden) which points to the archetypal designed landscape and an aesthetical landscape aspect in the structured urban environment. Our vision is to re-imagine the city through the transformation of abandoned areas, residual spaces within the urban fabric, existing parks in need of renovation and re-design, uncovered terraces and buildings are places that could gain collective use. The city needs its residents. The success of an urban vegetable garden based on collective action depends on its social character and the participatory governance of multi- stakeholders especially the community. Residents cultivate their city!

Our team focuses on enriching original and location-specific ideas with data, information and constant interaction between the local community and the public space. We are connected to many like-minded initiatives all over the world such as the French project ‘Kipos qui pousse’ and COST Organization for Urban Allotment Gardens in European Cities.

Although the whole process meets several obstacles, such as bureaucracy mainly for technical issues, the reservedness of the neighbors due to the fact that they had previous bad experience with municipal actions, we remain focused on our vision, trying to seek collaboration with the municipality, other local authorities and the neighborhood itself.

Our goal for 2017 is to construct a new vegetable garden in the same neighborhood in collaboration with the Municipality of Thessaloniki and create synergies with other like-minded initiatives abroad, learn from experts and adapt best practices grounded in Greek reality. In addition, we are going to preserve precious contacts with artists, architects, and agronomists we have met since the starting points of our project.

Who benefits from Kipos3?

  1. Residents of Thessaloniki getting activated in order to become catalysts of change in their own neighborhood.
  2. Local communities wishing to contribute to social cohesion, participatory governance and upgrading the urban landscape.
  3. Everyone who wants to be active and participate in the development and co-formation of vacant public spaces.
  4. Students of all educational levels, who gain environmental education and collective knowledge through field visits.

Kipos3 has run as an urban gardening project within the framework of the Angelopoulos CGIU Fellowship by Angelopoulos Foundation since 2015. So far, the project has attracted the attention of the local press and several European organizations and research programs.

We are reaching out to citizens through a dedicated website and our Facebook page, which includes all information that needs to be transferred to potential beneficiaries.

For the participation in the garden activities, no special criteria are required. Everyone is welcome to contribute with his passion and willingness to the garden. Kipos3  is an urban gardening project beyond cultivation of land for food provisioning.

The people behind the idea

My name is Eleftheria Gavriilidou and in my early 30s, I have a degree in Architecture, and I am a post-graduate in the MLA Landscape Architecture School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. I work as an architect and I contribute to the ‘Resilient Thessaloniki’ project as a participant of the ‘100 Resilient Cities’ pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. After getting a scholarship as a postgraduate student in 2014, I am in charge of the project ‘Kipos3’ working with many other partners. All these years, I had the chance to enrich my professional and academic experience participating in seminars, workshops, and conferences at national and international level.

My partner, Maria Ritou, has a degree in Agriculture, and she is a postgraduate in the MLA Landscape Architecture School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki too. She is in charge of the design activities of Kipos3 whereas I am more concerned in ecological activities of the vegetable garden.

Our professional relationship runs on the basis of trust, respect, and mutual understanding. After two years of collaboration, we realize that we have learned many things from each other’s capacities trying to construct a vegetable garden from scratch to approaching municipal and other local stakeholders.

Also, we really enjoy this feeling of pleasure and satisfaction when people get motivated by our ideas and share our vision for a sustainable neighborhood/ city. We feel blessed being supported by our families and friends who are involved with fresh ideas and their physical presence in the garden.

In what ways are you using a city as a resource? What approaches have worked out well, and what made them succeed? Do you have an idea, suggestion, or a thought? Please leave a comment below.  

How does the collaboration with the city work?

Hi @Kipos3, welcome to Edgeryders. I’m a colleague of Natalia and Pavlos whom you probably know already, based in Romania. Thanks for sharing your project, I’m a fan of community gardening ever since I’ve been to Tbilisi in Georgia and we met a group called Guerilla Gardening (meet @Nick_Davitashvili one of their leaders here), who were camped in a public park but also did a lot of school activities to teach kids how to plant. See this video starting from 50’:

But their relationship with the local authorities is nowhere near as good as yours. You can get some of the hints from their name :) they are trying to get the pedestrian areas secure from cars by setting up planting flowers and trees in second hand tires on the sidewalks. They get fined because officially it’s considered littering and throwing garbage around. I understand this is not them acting offensively, but solving problems that authorities won’t deal with.

Curious: how did Kipos3 turn administration into an ally?