About Lisbon´s Urban Farmers
What happens when public space turns into private space through spontaneous occupation and the construction of fences? Around 80 hectares of Lisbon’s wastelands are occupied by informal vegetable gardens. The government is tolerating them as long as they don’t need the territory for something else.
These areas are becoming strategies for survival against the effects of urban impoverishment by supplying an additional socioeconomic surplus for the families occupying them. People here are not driven idealism or the desire to make a political statement, but rather by the necessity to cultivate the urban space.
Urban poverty is currently one of the biggest problems in Portuguese society, especially for immigrants from the former Portuguese colonies such as the Cape Verde islands, Angola and Mozambique. The gardens have an essential meaning for all the farmers: much more than just vegetables are growing here.
But it may all be over tomorrow: the farmers who are cultivating precarious territory never know if they will still be able to harvest the next day what they sowed last month.
Most of them once left the countryside in hopes of a better life in the city.
Now that this hope is gone, nature is the only refuge they can still trust in, where they still know that their efforts to cultivate will have anyvisible effect.
I accompanied some of the farmers for more than two years in their gardens between traffic lines and housing blocks.
This work is my final Diploma project.