Urban farmers are becoming more numerous in Malmö and they deliver fresh food with minimal climate impact to both restaurants and households.
The City of Malmö, Sweden, encourages urban farming and gardening as a way to create social interaction, improve health, increase biodiversity and reduce the climate footprint.
In Malmö there are different ways to farm or garden in the urban environment. It is possible to garden both on public space as well as development districts that are owned by the City of Malmö. There are many different models ranging from community gardens on squares and parks focusing on community building to commercial plots for gardeners trying to become commercially viable.
Urban gardening model on public space
The urban gardening model allows associations to take over responsibility of public space and garden there. The main focus is enabling social interactions around gardening and bringing life to the public space. This can be on squares or in parks. While there is a formal agreement with the City of Malmö to take care of the gardening space, there is no cost to garden on public spaces.
The associations running the gardens have different target groups and activities: some are very active in engaging school children in different pedagogical courses, while others provide a meeting point for neighbors. One of the gardens is based on (and teaches) permaculture principles that integrate the environment, resources and people together in a no-waste, closed-loop often seen in nature.
Usually, the initiative to start a new garden comes from residents that form an association, but the recent Hyllievångsparken garden was the result of the city wanting an urban garden in a park. A group of enthusiastic residents formed an association with the support of the city and is now Malmö´s first garden initiated from city planners.
Following the success of these activities, the City of Malmö has decided to continue to enable these gardens and develop new ones where it is feasible. There are already ten urban gardens around the city and a few new ones under review. People interested in starting their own urban garden can simply contact the city and explore the options available and budgets to facilitate the start up.
Urban farming in development districts
Complementing urban gardens, Malmö has formal agreements with private actors that pay to farm the land in development districts. For instance, the Stadsbruk methodology developed by Botildenborg, one of Malmö’s sustainable farms, offers an incubator program for urban farmers to develop their commercial ideas based on local and organic farming principles. Once they graduate from this program, they have the tools and experience to become established and sustainable urban farmers.
Cultivation in allotment gardens
Allotment gardens are also popular in Malmö and have a long tradition of offering city residents the opportunity to garden, relax, and socialize away from their homes but still within the city. There are different kinds, including ones that allow birds and one that is a winery.
Farming and gardening improves health
Urban farming and gardening provide ways to use the city’s land for both farming and social interactions around ecological principles, food and pleasure. This enables activating public spaces, adding greenery to the urban landscape, and raising public awareness around gardening and the importance of urban greenery, as well as contributing to biodiversity.
There is growing evidence that shows a correlation between green spaces and improved health, and urban gardens can play an important role. This was especially evident during the pandemic where interest in gardening and farming has increased, and these spaces have become important places for people to meet, interact and feel closer to nature.
Malmö’s Department of parks, streets and property owns and manages around half of the city’s property including parks, streets, squares and farmland.
When residents put forth a request to establish a public garden, the department takes care of them and when possible, will devise a formal agreement.