Madrids illegal gardens

Guerilla gardens have been popping up all over Madrid since the recent crisis – people have been reclaiming disused land for use as public space by planting trees and vegetables. These formerly illegal gardens were and often still are met with strong disapproval, but the battle is slowly being won. With permission finally granted by the town hall, the concept is beginning to gain traction throughout the city.

During the boom years, older buildings all around Madrid were being demolished, but in 2008 the Spanish construction dream came crashing down, and these demolition sites were abandoned overnight, left as nothing more than a rectangular pile of rubble.

Those affected the most were the neighbours, witnessing their barrios turning into patches of wasteland. Many homeless people affected by the crisis would move in, and in extreme cases so would alcoholics and drug users, making the area unsafe for the local residents.

It came as a no-brainer to many that this land could be better used – and what better way in a city as densely populated as Madrid, than as a community garden that all the neighbours could enjoy.

The most sophisticated example of guerilla gardening in Madrid is Esta es una Plaza in Lavapiés. Since being granted permission by the town hall in 2008, it’s been growing steadily and is now enjoyed by a broad spectrum of locals, from small children playing in the sandpit and reading books in the open-air library to teenagers hanging out with their friends and families tucking into picnics and tinto de verano.





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