2009-2010. Lisa Cheung. VA VA VOOM VEG (theoretical data)

VA VA Voom Veg (working title) is a prototype for a mobile, temporary vegetable garden that invites local residents in urban locations to grow fresh vegetables within the city centre. This project shares the pleasures and rewards of gardening with people who do not have the opportunity because they live in an urban environment. As well, it attempts to expand the possibilities of how we use public spaces for communal benefits and the degrees participation and belonging that can be cultivated.

VVVV draws on the traditions of allotments in the UK and other European countries. Allotments were a necessity during the war year food shortages and now have enjoyed a recent resurgence due to the greater importance placed on organic and local production coupled with rising food prices. Often times, unwanted unusual spaces in urban centres were used for allotments because of their easy accessibility and availability; thus transforming “unused” land into communal spaces. Furthermore allotment garden is characterised by a strong community spirit, passionate individuals and a generous sharing of knowledge, work, and of course food!

VVVV attempts to reclaim public space for individuals and the community. It also endeavours to imbue a sense of the “country’ back into urban life by linking the city dweller with the earth fundamentally by growing food in a communal environment. This is especially relevant as more and more people live in small, urban apartments with no private open space and little access to green areas. As well, this project acts as a link to village life, where many once originated from and often long to return.

The structure is in the shape of an idyllic “A-frame” “country” house on a trailer. This will be sited in a neighbourhood in Madrid within a public square where participants can access. One side forms a glass greenhouse for cultivating seeds and small plants. As the plants mature, the glass roof can slide safely under the roof of the house, allowing the vegetables to continue to grow. Vegetables and fruits can be grown in the house itself and within the many window boxes. All materials and equipment necessary are stored inside the little house. In addition, a compact library of gardening books, activity notice board and garden “diary” (to record thoughts, comments and experiences) will be housed within the unit.

Local residents are invited to participate, decide the planting, maintain and enjoy the fruits of the garden throughout the period of the project (Feb - July). Their input and dedication are essential for the success of the garden and the project. A core gardening club will be formed (composed of local residents) to regularly maintain the garden, accompanied by monthly gardening workshops and gardening assistance for novices. Communal activities will be organised around the garden (ie communal lunch, strawberry celebration, harvest festival etc) where all are welcome. As well the mobile garden will travel to other parts of the city to hold workshops, demonstrations and other community activities.

This proposal is based on my interest in public spaces and creating social environments where social exchange can occur. I am interested in temporary structures that make up urban landscape. My recent projects have used gardening and cultivating plants as a point of interaction and participation.