Beside the difficulties caused by the pandemic we happily managed went through the first phase of the project (scoping) and come to the middle of the second part (city labs). Over the months of lockdown, we realized how COVID-19 influenced the perception of urban gardens and has made the issue of making garden space available even more important. At the reviewing process we came across different aspects of integration in Warsaw and Berlin, redefining its initial definition that we proposed at the beginning of the research.
During the first interview round in December/March we had a possibility to map already excising initiatives that bring these two types together. Through interviews with garden’s board members, personal activism experience, literature and media scanned, meetings with people involved in urban gardening in Warsaw and Berlin etc., we distinguish factors that might have an influence on inclusiveness, closer cooperation and integration. Just to mention a few: ownership of the land (real estate management/cooperative/city) status of the land (included in zoning/not included) or management style (vertical/horizontal) as well as physical features (open/close garden), and location within the city. Integration can refer to the word dialogue and working together but also to gaining power of decision when gardeners can join power and combine common interest to cope with external discourse.
Based on the reviewing process and interview phase, we worked on the hypotheses that were planned to be discussed and analysed together with the gardeners during the focus groups in April and May in both cities. Due to the pandemic, we decided to abandon this part along with VISIS workshop that main aim was to develope a common vision for integration based on deep involvement of actors and facilitation of developing common innovative projects. We decided to replace this methodology by participatory observation, meetings, in-depth interviews that investigate individual stories of gardeners and round table/workshop with smaller groups which, to some extent, has made it possible for gardeners to meet together and discuss chances and obstacles of integration process. A particularly important aspect of these meetings, especially round tables/workshops in gardens, was the opportunity to meet physically, get to know each other and see how much we all have in common when it comes to green spaces in cities.