The countryside in the city? Rural-urban dynamics in allotment gardens in Brno, Czech Republic

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The position of urban allotments in the rural-urban spectrum is evaluated in this paper, which contributes to literatures on urban gardening, as well as contemporary rural-urban dynamics. Historically, European allotments can be seen as a product of urbanisation. At the same time, they embody a number of “non-urban” characteristics that create the impression of “the countryside in the city”. This research project investigates how the urban and the rural are materialised, represented and practised in five allotment sites in Brno, Czech Republic. We follow three main lines of enquiry where the urban and the rural seem to meet: the physical environment of the allotments; the social life of these spaces; and food production as one of their core functions. Critical reflection of the rural-urban perspective advances our understanding of urban gardens, while, at the same time, allotments offer an example of hybrid spaces, which, in turn, contribute to discussions on current cities and countrysides. Overcoming the urban-rural dichotomy could facilitate the inclusion of urban gardening in contemporary cities.

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