The book results from research carried out by the authors since 1999 on urban gardening collectives in Russia, then from the extension of this research towards collective urban gardening in France, with some investigations in other European Union Member States and Brazil. This research was carried out within the framework of Kazan University (currently, the Institute of Administration and Territorial Development of the Federal University of Kazan) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). It enabled the creation of an international research network entitled Sustainable Development of Cities: the Relationship between City-Dwellers and Nature. This research was developed with help from a three-year research contract (October 2009 - September 2012) with the GESSOL programme of the French Ministry of Ecology, on the theme of the use of urban and peri-urban soils for the sustainable development of cities. The final report of this research contract provides the basis for the book.
A significant phenomenon that affects nearly two-thirds of Russian city-dwellers, family urban agriculture with its allotment gardens, allotment vegetable gardens, and dacha allotments grew out of a unique history and cultural representations. The contemporary Urban Grower in Russia holds a legacy of the famines and traumatisms of the Second World War, which prompted Soviet authorities to encourage the development of allotments and gardening education, which they had previously opposed. The school system gave Urban Growers a literary education that connects working the soils and working plants with beauty, the good life, and culture. Urban Growers have won the right to build a small house on their garden plots to make a place for holidays that enlarge their living space. The allotment gardens of Russia are the most developed sign of a rhizome that extends over the neighbouring countries of Asia and a large portion of Europe. Its history and current forms are different from the allotments of Western Europe. But some similarities are identifiable. The similarities observed suggest a possible common future, insofar as the Russian experience conveys universal teachings. It opens the way for thinking of an alternative to the single-family house that is accused of polluting and destroying the soil. It shows the possibility of reorganising the use of urban and periurban soils to increase the resilience to crises in terms of food security and resistance to emotional and psychological stress. It questions the representations of the international community on integral human habitat by showing how people need immediate, direct, and active contact with nature. This experience offers many useful references for resolving common problems of the major cities in the world: food security, poverty, violence, environmental issues, and housing crises. Interrupted for almost a century, a new international scientific dialogue including the Urban Grower of Russia can become established on these subjects, which are decisive for the future of a definitively urban world.
Notice Preamble: Heal the World Chapter I. Introduction Chapter II. The palimpsest of urban gardening in Russia Chapter III. A new civil right won under the Soviet regime Chapter IV. A post-Soviet phenomenon Chapter V. The Russian Urban Grower: representations and practices Chapter VI. In favour of a new perspective Chapter VII. A continental rhizome: gardening policies and visions of society Chapter VIII. Western and Southern Europe viewed from a Russian perspective Chapter IX. Universal meaning Annexes Annex 1. The capitals: Moscou, Saint-Pétersbourg, Kazan Annex 2. The collective gardens "War Veterans" Annex 3. The collective gardens "No. 7 of the Aircraft Engine Manufacturing Company/KMPO Kazan": massif Soukhaya rieka Annex 4. The collective gardens "Victoria Island" List of boxes, diagrams, documents, maps, photography's, tables Bibliography Glossary General Summary