09 maart 2010
"VEGATABLE GARDENING IS BECOMING ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TRENTS IN RECENT YEARS."
GINA KRANENDONK'S GLOBAL GARDENS DOOR ZEVA BELLEL FOR THE BLOOM Paris 2010
lmagine a place where people from all four corners of the world work their land side by side.
How would each group cultivate their individual plots? Would the Belarusians qrow the same
crops as the Brazilians? Would the Trinidadians use the same farrning methods as the Turks?
How and with what would they construct their shelters? Would they share techniques, or keep
their agrarian traditions to themselves? This seemingly surreal social experiment is the
fascinating subject matter of Gina Kranendonk's
photography series, Do Me A Garden Please.
Framing the farm as a cultural fingerprint, the series researches how people lronn various backgrounds
bring culture to nature in the farrning of food. The photographs were all taken alongside the Dutch
railway, where a surprising number of nationalities are gardening next to each other to grow their own
national food. For decades, the land that lines the railway tracks was made available to employees of the
Dutch railway company as a form of social compensation. Though the privatization of the rail system
has diminished the number of worker gardens, there are still hundreds of allotments scattered amid
the woods and meadows of the Dutch landscape, with clusters that swell around the larger cities.
Each small plot is rich with information about how transplanted peoples reconect with each other, their traditions and cultural histo- ry through the land. Without electricity, running water, or any type of on-site shelter, each farmer relies on the accumulated knowledge of his culture's past and his own individual resourceful- ness to cultivate his crops.
A Chinese woman digs small holes in the ground to collect rainwater the same way her ancestors have for
thousands of years, while the Moroccan man uses well water to nourish the fifteen different mint varieties that
cover his land. These mini-farms qive each grower a sense of purpose and freedom in their adopted
homeland. They can practice traditional culinary tech- nigues outlawed in the city, like grilling sheep or baking
bread on open fires; save money by eating foods un- touched by the marketplace; and be comforted by their
own resourcefulness. 'l've photographed over one hundred nationalities,' says Kranendonk, who continues the project she started in 2006 to this day.'While each culture preserves their way of farming, they learn from
each other and create a kind ol gardening hybrid" They help each other out and trade crops, creating a bar-
ter-based micro-economy.' When your prirnary goal is tending your land, only three things matter: weather, soil
and water. Discrimination, racism and elitism have no place, making the garden a utopian model of diplomacy
and tolerance. Beyond the global garden's uplifting and promising human dimension is its model of self'sufficiency.
The preservation of ances- tral agrarian knowledge and small-scale sustainability could offset the power of the
industrial farming machine that rules the majority of the world's crops. 'They don't know how special and knowledgeable they are,' says Kranendonk. 'They understand how to grow many different species on such small plots of land,
with so few resources. We can learn so much from them. We need to preserve their knowledge, not just
in my pictures, but by using their model to guide us.'