Concrete Orchards: The Development of Community Gardening in Barcelona, Spain

The following post comes courtesy of Global Site Plans' The Grid. CNU and Global Site Plans recently teamed up to syndicate Grid content, as its contingent of writers presents a view on the opportunities and issues of urbanization all across the world. CNU will carry select posts from the Grid direct on the CNU Salons.


 It is amazing how crisis can affect us. When times get tough, customs and lifestyles are often altered, and life can get stripped closer to the primitive. Through Spain’s current economic crisis, as well as through Barcelona’s populous nature, the platform for the development of humble community gardens within the city’s few uninhabited sites has been created.

Photograph by Maria Sole Bravo

Hort Del Xino is an example of one of Barcelona’s numerous community gardens that has sprung up in the last five years. The local residents who took over the former abandoned apartment block in July 2009 have transformed the area into a sustainable multi-functional garden that engages itself , not only with its local community, but with fellow Barcelonese’s and foreigners alike.

With the green-space deprived residents’ passion for agricultural space, “El Hort” can boast a garden that provides the following:






  • Bird house;
  • Fully Operational Kitchen;
  • Monthly Gardening Workshops;
  • Organic Outhouse Toilet;
  • Weekly Sunday Family Days;
  • Wood-fired Oven made from recycled materials;





Like many community gardens of its type in Spain, the area has been developed without any permits or consultation with the local government. However, this doesn’t imply that the inner workings of the site are similarly unregulated. A board of locals has been set up where regular meetings are held and decisions are made on every event and project that “Hort Del Xino” undertakes. These range from commissioning contemporary local artists to paint the garden’s walls, to deciding which herbs and plants are to be planted.  Furthermore, the board is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the site as a community center through implementing rules that prevent the use of the site for private use (i.e. the restriction of individuals planting their own plots or organizing their own events).

Photograph by Maria Sole Bravo


Examples such as this are helping change the paradigm of urban neighbourhoods, as the garden not only increases the neighbourhood’s appreciation and knowledge of horticulture but also the social bonds and friendships that lie within them.

Do you know of similar gardens within your neighbourhood? Do they function similar to “Hort Del Xino?” Or are they more council driven?

To read the original post, written by Steven Petsinis, visit Global Site Plans.


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