Sustainable Cities™

Copenhagen: Urban gardens liven up Ørestad

What started as a mobile garden scheme in Ørestad in Denmark is now a popular permanent urban offering for the area's residents. The project was started by the association ’Ørestad Urban Gardens, which used empty building sites to bring life and establish green areas in a district characterised by construction machinery and bare fields . Today, the scheme is permanent and many Ørestad residents are on the waiting list to get their green fingers into the organic soil.

Kvinde høster rabarber i Ørestads urbane haver. Foto venligst udlånt af Ole Ziegler, By & Havn.

The association's ambition for 'Ørestad Urban Gardens' is: City dwellers should have the opportunity to grow their own organic vegetables and experience how food gets from the soil to the dinner table. At the same time the gardens must bring verdant life to Copenhagen's new district of Ørestad on Amager, which is still characterised by open spaces and buildings under construction.

"Lend a hand in the shared garden or have your own little plot - live out your green dreams and taste life's natural sweetness. Remember that Mother Earth will care for you if you take care of Her. So grow on, water wisely and harvest with relish!"

This is Ørestadens PlugNPlay invitation to the district's residents to take part in the Garden project.

The underlying idea behind Ørestad Urban Gardens is unique. The association experimented with small, mobile gardens in an urban environment and are allowed to use some of the building sites in Ørestad which have not yet been developed. The garden association moved to a new site every year. The individual gardens consisted of raised beds in Euro-pallet boxes. Members were entitled to two 'plant boxes' in which they could cultivate flowers, herbs and vegetables. The gardens had no sheds or permanent installations.

Organic vegetables from the urban gardens in Ørestaden. Courtesy of Ole Ziegler, By & Havn.

"In terms of urban planning, it is a brilliant idea. Instead of saying that they will only start something if they know that it is going to be permanent and all the deeds have been signed, this really does represent new thinking," says John Andersen, professor in sociology at Roskilde University Centre.

Today, 'Ørestad Urban Gardens' is a permanent scheme, offering members gardens of approximately 16 m², in which they can grow more or less what they want to as long as it is organic. There are approximately 60 small gardens in Ørestad South and many keen gardeners among the residents are on the waiting list. In addition to the individual plots, the association's members also have the opportunity to help cultivate a large shared garden. 

The common area has tables, benches and a barbecue for everyone to use. An old site hut functions as a tool shed and there is a water tap. The association is responsible for the purchase of tools, tables and benches, as well as measuring up and allocation of plots. The practical work of laying out the gardens, etc. is carried out by the members on special work days. From time to time, the association holds social and gardening-related events at which the district's residents can get together to work in their gardens, enjoy each other's company or to attend theme days which focus on gardening, ecology and the environment.

The area, which is close to the Vestamager Metro station has been made available by the urban development corporation By & Havn (City & Harbour), which has helped prepare the area and installed water supplies, etc. Since August 2009 the gardens have been part of an area which provides a variety of leisure and sporting activities in Ørestad, called PLUG N PLAY. The plots of the urban gardens lie along a 10-metre wide green band which meanders luxuriantly through the activity area.


Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014