In and around Siena the Covid-19 imposed lockdown was an opportunity to rethink the key role of urban green areas and how they affect social interactions.
In the province of Siena, one of the URBiNAT project’s follower cities, an interesting initiative of urban gardening was born out of the long weeks of Covid lockdown. In the neighbourhood of San Miniato every first Saturday of the month, a group of “citizen gardeners” gather to look after the green spaces of the town. It is an opportunity to spend time together, share lunch, exchange experiences and educational activities.
As a result of the covid-19 outbreak, social activities in the public gardens and spaces of the town, including the gardeners’ assembly and maintenance activities, were abruptly halted on 7th March. In the first weeks of the lockdown, relations between gardeners and the local management committee were interrupted.
After the initial response to the spread of the pandemic and a prolonged period of strict lockdown, social relations are being slowly rebuilt. The main objective during this reconstruction phase has been the elaboration of proposals submitted to municipality of Siena municipality for the safe reopening of gardens. The situation has been compared to that in other cities, such as the “Forum of urban gardens” in Rome (“Orti in Comune”).
From April 14th the attention of the management committee has shifted to other topics such as maintenance activities of the gardens to ensure the safety of gardeners (the area covers about 7000 square meters and includes 38 gardens, paths and public pedestrian areas). There was an interesting discussion on how to use and promote community gardens where, before the health emergency, educational activities and the involvement of primary school pupils had been planned.
The committee also discussed the issue of protecting gardens from wild boar which, after isolation, passed through the city district undisturbed.
Before the covid-19 outbreak, the management committee used to meet once or twice a month, whereas in the last two months they have met once a week via video conference. This attendance is strengthening the relationship within the group and the ability to work together!
Meanwhile, the management committee is looking to the future: How can social activities be promoted and carried out if the health emergency and social distancing become the norm? These are question that will also be addressed during the next phases in the co-planning and co-implementations of an URBiNAT Healthy Corridor for Siena, expected to resume shortly.