Framing urban gardening and agriculture: On space, scale and the public

Ernwein, Marion (2014). Framing urban gardening and agriculture: On space, scale and the public. Geoforum, 56 pp. 77–86.



During the past ten years, both public policies and scientific research have tended to pay increasing attention to what they refer to as “urban gardening” and “urban agriculture”. In this paper I argue that the term “urban” poorly reflects the diversity of spatial references that underpin such projects. I explore the framing process of two competing agriculture and gardening projects in Geneva, Switzerland. I first show that the social and spatial frames of the projects, i.e. the central definition of a public and of a spatiality are inextricably linked. In the second part, I argue that by ranking the spatial units that ground the spatial frames of the projects according to the specific public they are aimed at, the most powerful actor makes competitive use of scale frames. This paper thus argues for more attention to the socio-spatial framing of urban agriculture and urban gardening projects. It contributes to the debate on the politics of scale by exploring how a scalar hierarchy is performed through the strategic deployment of spatial criteria by social actors. The hierarchy appears to be contingent and context specific, with prevalent notions of locality and proximity.

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