Credits: Leslie Macmillan (author of article), Rose Lincoln (Harvard staff photographer)
Resource: Harvard Gazette
Publish Date: 14 April 2016
Sopov said such ancient gardens are the forerunners of modern urban farming, which relates to modern concepts like food justice and sustainable cities. “When food is produced locally, consumers know more about farming practices,” he said, “so laborers aren’t unpaid and mistreated, and pesticides” aren’t used.
City farming is important because it engages a wide swath of urban dwellers, he said, creating a sense of community and shared purpose. The prevalent image of the eastern Mediterranean as divided along ethnic and religious lines and wracked by strife “is a recent political construct,” he said. In fact, despite the devastation wrought by the wars of the 20th century, “Skopje [in Macedonia] preserved many of its Ottoman caravansaries, hamams [baths], churches, mosques, madrasas,” proof of a vibrant, multicultural city.
Eliminating green public spaces isn’t just bad for aesthetics, but for democracy, said Sopov.
“When those public places are erased, it moves people into arenas where demagoguery can take place. People are being channeled into arenas where politics are being received rather than discussed,” he said. “A narrowing of availability of public spaces affects the political future of this country and other places in the world.”