“The house up the street has stuff coming out of it. It keeps piling up. Where is the ticket for that? It just doesn’t make sense.” Devlin said.
In November, 7 Action News Reporter Ronnie Dahl exposed dozens of blighted properties owned by Perfecting Church. Some are vacant lots with illegally dumped debris. Others are abandoned homes, sitting wide open. One house, close to a school, was being used as a drug den.
In 2009, Kääntöpöytä, finnish for “turntable”, opened in Helsinki, Finland tucked between modern highly trafficked railways by local environmental organization, Dodo Ry. The greenhouse and café was built into an existing train turntable left unused in this industrial graveyard due to contemporary trains and stations. The historic steel structure serves as the framework for the thriving greenhouse made of wood sourced locally from Finland and western Russia. True to the passive solar design the walls are made from long-lasting UV protected polycarbonate. Designed by Joseph Mulcahy, the greenhouse was built by the highly involved staff and volunteers under the guidance of a few skilled craftsmen from Lapland.
Kääntöpöytä is full of recycled pallet planter boxes that grow a multitude of veggies and fruits in the warmer months. Kirmo Kivela, a long-time guerilla gardener in Helsinki and project leader, says the green house has extended the very short growing season of this northern city. Walking into the greenhouse on a brisk March day I noticed the surprising warmth achieved through quality craftsmanship and resonating from the Biolan composter at the entrance.
From May through October Kääntöpöytä provides Helsinki residents with brunches, lunches and vibrant live entertainment. A local chef uses the onsite brick oven and cultivated produce to create delicious Nordic dishes. Under the northern summer sun, guests sit on charming benches and chairs surrounding the greenhouse made from reclaimed doors and wood sourced from a local renovation site.
Kääntöpöytä sports a dry toilet for customer use and compost research with Finland’s Dry Toilet Association. Additionally, the café hosts sustainability workshops about composting, beekeeping, pallet planter box making and other do-it-yourself projects. The lively café, or “kahvila” in finnish, adds some much needed pizzazz to the neighborhood for the many artists who rent studios in the nearby old train industry buildings.
A World Design Capital grant from the city and supportive companies including composting pioneer Biolan provided funding for the project. The land is leased to these innovative activists from the State at a reasonable rate to assist their cause.
The effects of this repurposed space are apparent at the well-attended events in the summer time. The beauty this inventive building adds to Pasila’s underground alongside graffiti covered retired train cars is a powerful testament to what we can do with our outdated industrial lands as modern technology continues to develop.
Contact Info: Kirmo Kivela
Tallikatu, Keski-Pasila 00520 Helsinki, Finland
More amazing photos can be found here!
The technique of demolition under cover of night has to stop. It is common practice to bulldoze community sensitive places, like historical buildings or in this example – gardens with animals.
It is unethical for developers to demolish buildings and raze structures under cover of darkness without advanced notification to the community.
We really need to address the permitting processes at the government level if we are going to change this grievous practice. Then make it punishable by law and preferable jail-time for developer perpetrators.
Community activists told the NY Post that construction workers waited until 5 a.m. on the morning of December 28th to begin the abrupt demolition. According to witnesses, work crews first gathered and moved the 20 chickens living in the garden to pet carriers outside the plot, however it seems that dozens of cats, rabbits, and pigeons fled before the machines moved in. Soon after, backhoes and bulldozers rolled in, tearing apart plots that have grown everything from hundreds of pounds of tomatoes, cabbage, zucchinis, and other vegetables.
Really insightful article on the benefit of quantifying community gardens to policy makers.
“Gardeners are Philadelphia’s vacant land stewards,” says Cahn. “Yet from a policy perspective, the city still views urban agriculture as a temporary activity.”
“The surveys project helps tell both stories — of the resurgent interest in gardens and the continued need to preserve them.”
Specifically, the research has revealed improving conditions for Philadelphia’s community gardens. “Gardens and farms have increased by over 100 in the past four years,” Cahn says. The survey data will help her make a legal case for gardens across the city.
These surveys add to a large body of research on the benefits of gardening on vacant land. A recent study by another University of Pennsylvania researcher found that planting gardens on empty lots reduced violence in the surrounding area. Further research is needed to tell whether it’s the gardeners themselves or their plants that are driving away gangbangers.
Read the entire article via Counting the harvest: How numbers can save urban gardens | Grist.