Urban agriculture is a relatively new practice in Greece that has grown and gained traction since 2009, when the Greek economic crisis began. Since then, urban agriculture has come to play a larger part in Greek civil society, impacting environmental politics, food security, and civil society’s accessibility to green spaces. When we think of our city, Athens, we’re moved to advocate for more urban farms where locals can come together to plant diverse crops, grow, and harvest fresh food.

At its most literal level, urban agriculture is the practice of farming in an urban setting to produce food for consumption. Yet on a broader level, and in the case of Athens, a city that suffers from urban sprawl and a lack of urban green space, urban agriculture can be a way to boost climate resilience in the long run. Laying the foundations for much-needed urban green infrastructure and increasing plant and animal diversity allows for natural filtration of air and improves habitats that have a positive impact on soil health and food production. Which is why we believe urban agriculture can serve as a small-scale way to mitigate the effects of climate change.

An urban farm on a rooftop in the city that is filled with trees, plants, and shrubs

Equally important is the fact that urban agriculture is also a way of tackling the issue of food security for low-income households across Athens. The Greek economic crisis increased food poverty across the nation which led to civil society initiatives and grassroots movements taking it upon themselves to create urban community farms. An example of this is the transformation of a plot of land owned by the municipality of Maroussi, a northern suburb of Athens, into a community vegetable garden. The urban farm was divided into 40 slots, each measuring 25 square meters, where locals were given the opportunity to plant their own fruits and vegetables.

On a wider note, production strategies for urban farms and community agricultural spaces effectively promote a consistent supply of produce for local households. Beyond that, urban agriculture can also help locals gain access to foodstuffs that might not usually be obtainable for vulnerable social groups and households.

A birds eye view of a farm

Spending time gardening in a community-run urban farm can encourage greater social interaction, physical activity and improve neighbourhood ties through active participation. There have been various developments of urban farms across Athens that seek to bolster local community engagement, including the Botanical Garden in Petroupoli, and the Antonis Tritsis Park. The latter announced only last year that 50,000 square meters of park land will be developed into a community farm for residents who are struggling to access adequate, and nutritious, food. Doing so will not only encourage locals to grow their own food, but it will also help build a sense of community and boost agricultural skill development.

Athens is a concrete jungle but there are pockets of green space that, given the right municipal drive, funding, and management, can be transformed into urban farms. Doing so will create urban spaces where local communities can come together and cultivate their own food, both factors contributing to locals’ wellbeing.

Contact us to hear more about urban agriculture initiatives in Athens.