Chisinau municipality does not provide any mechanism to enable residents to engage in gardening, as an individual or collective practice, while urban agriculture is not included in the city’s development strategies, shows the public policy study tilted “Urban Gardening in Chisinau: from penalty to encouragement”, carried out by the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), in partnership and with the financial support provided by the Soros Foundation Moldova.
According to the survey, in the absence of a municipal legal mechanism and a vision to meet this need, on the one hand, we are witnessing an increase in informal gardening and, on the other hand, a decrease in land with gardening potential that is removed from agricultural and educational use and transformed into residential and commercial construction land.
The study also shows that 80% of Chisinau residents live in blocks of flats, and the surface of agricultural lands and spaces with gardening potential decreases. Although most residents do not have access to space for gardening, many residents still engage in informal gardening.
At the same time, 92% of respondents believe that it is possible to grow fruits and vegetables in Chisinau, 78% know neighbors or friends who practice gardening in the city, 64% practice gardening in different ways (36% on the balcony, 35% in the personal garden, 9% in the garden in the block yard, 6.5% on a plot of land further from the block yard). Another 10% of the respondents indicated that they would tend a garden, but have no place to do it.
30% of respondents said that they garden to grow food, 29% do it for leisure, 17% to learn about gardening, 9% to green the city, 6% to contribute to urban planning, 3% to communicate with other people who garden, and another 3% of respondents said they garden for therapy, relaxation and connection with nature.
The study recommends that municipal urban agriculture policies should be based on three priorities: social, economic and ecological. The ecological dimension is rather an interdisciplinary one, which pursues, in addition to social benefits, environmental benefits as well. Thus, in Paris, urban gardening programs in community gardens also have a green rulebook which gardeners must sign if they want to benefit from a plot in that garden. The green rulebook stipulates the principles of organic farming, which must be practiced by the respective gardeners in this area. This means that, in addition to the fact that these gardens are greening the city, they also help to reduce CO2 emissions.