community gardens - on industrial ground


logo kultivator
Malin Lindmark Vrijman and Mathieu Vrijman has started the project Kultivator on a farm in Åland, combining organic farming and art. the interview was conducted via e-mail in july/august 2006.

How did the Kultivator project start, and what is it you do?

How did you get access to land?

Kultivator is not only about sustainability, but also about art, collaboration and a  different kind of economy, can you tell more about this?

The project Kultivator officially started in November 2005, but there is of course a prehistory to it…

Me and Mathieu Vrijman met at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. We worked together in a 6 months long project we set up making a jewellery collection with homeless people. After finishing the studies at GRA, I worked with one extensive community artproject in assignment of the city of Amsterdam, concerning migration and intercultural dialogue. ( Mathieu worked at this time parttime in a gallery, parttime with street performances and actions, alone or with other artists. We both had a very clear image of that what we did should incorporate somehow in everyday life and social structures. In January 2003 we moved to Sweden and bought some houses and old barns in very bad condition, next to the Ecological farm of my sister and her husband. Originally, we moved out to gain some space and possibilities for larger works and gatherings, but soon we started to work together with the farm. The idea of a close cooperation with the organic farm came gradually, since we realised more and more similarities between the way we as artists lived worked and how an organic farmer live and work. (the distribution problem, the dependence of grants or public money, bad economy, etc) We saw that we could use eachother.

Stillimage from filmrecording "dinner with cows" harvestfeast 2005

Very practically, this use means that we get food for a lot of people when we arrange workmeetings for artists or other meetings, and we get space – in old barns or in use of land - and the farm gets publicity and outlet for their products The public space of Kultivator is being more and more visited, and this means that people from the surrounding start to buy their food directly at the farm. (In Sweden this is not yet so well developed as for example in Denmark.) But more important than that is probably the exchange of impulses and knowledge that goes both ways – the visiting artist in the rural surrounding, and the other way around. We saw this in a workmeeting we arranged in 2004 ; (

We invited a lot of artists to come to our place. They worked with the surroundings and were influenced by them not just formally, like traditional land-art, but in the way our generation works. Looking at the systems behind the landscape and the provision production, or farming. All artists we worked with came from big cities, and the comparison of urban and rural structures came naturally. We saw that we already were creating a sort of meeting point, and Kultivator is a framework for this. Later we have made projects that go the other way, like “the Allotment” ( , when we used a gallery floor in Malmö to plan an allotment, and brought the farmers there to advice the audience over the plants. We are at this moment finishing a proper guestatelier where artists or others can live and work for longer periods with specific projects, relating to the issues of food production, nature preservation, rural-urban interventions, or anything else that we find interesting. We also set up  an “agri culture shop”, where products from the farm and other local producers will be sold, but also a sortiment of fair trade products and art products from visiting artists. (if possible). 

community gardens - on industrial ground

community garden

Interview with Christel Lundberg, Malmö, Sweden

You have through a number of years been involved in community gardening and related projects, could you tell about your current project "Community Garden - on industrial ground"?

COMMUNITY GARDENS - on Industrial Ground is a project together with Kristin Fredriksson and Sofia Häyhtiö. It´s a participative platform in which organisations, groups and individuals are networking with aim to create co-operative solutions based on mutual needs.
In an international perspective, local community gardens are realized in urban spaces to construct more human public spaces. Community gardens force political discussions about strategies and solutions of our common urban grounds.
Community Gardens on Industrial Ground is a participative democracy project, which asks citizens to take active part, to increase the influence in designing public spaces.
Community Gardens  on Industrial ground is a proposal to construct an urban herb- and medical garden  in one of the many former industrial areas of Malmö (S).  This garden will be located in one of the 10 districts of Malmö, called South Innercity.

Of health reasons it`s not advisable to cultivate on poisoned ground and close to private- and commercial traffic, because what we cultivate will not be considered as eatable. As a counter-action we will ask: If the herbs are not eatable, let´s do something about the conditions, so they will be!   The ground can be recaptured, but first it must be cleaned up. The process of cleaning the soil is a stage in Community Gardens on Industrial Ground.
The creating of a common herb- and medicalgarden will open up as a meeting point for many different groups with co-operative interests . Public spaces are often not designed to fill these needs. We want to be part of creating public spaces that serve people.  We consider the ecological, economical and cultural aspects as a whole.

community garden

How did you organize yourselves?

We have started the NGO(organisation) called "Markaktiv" (Groundactive), Sweden to work independently with processes of democratization through decision-making and meeting techniques.

What is your working method?

Community Gardens on Industrial ground will be based on meetings with citizens in the area. Together we work in experimenting with meeting techniques to enrich democracy. We try different methods of decision-making and discuss alternative possibilities with those who participate and form the project.
We ask for creative sollutions and actions to create a healthy ground. We will do one workshop based on interviews with different professions in the field, and one workshop with taking specimens of soil. Our result will be used in experimenting with non traditional methods for  cleaning the poisoned soil. 
Markaktiv/Groundactive will participate in Biennale de Paris 1 okt-31okt 2006 with the initial process of Community Gardens - on Industrial Ground.

What are your thoughts on the sustainability of projects like this?

We are working with a long term perspective. Community Gardens on Industrial ground will be based on meetings with citizens in the area. Together we work in experimenting with meeting techniques to enrich democracy. We try different methods of decision-making and discuss alternative possibilities with those who participate and form the project. The results could be co-operative solutions in the area.  We also ask for creative solutions for environmental sustainability and its relations to social sustainability.