The post-socialist transition led the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries not only towards democracy but also towards capitalist economy. However, there have been some domains left intact by the processes of marketization and commodification. I will use the example of food self-provisioning and specifically urban gardening in the Czech Republic to describe the position of such practices. On one hand, the interest in gardening decreased after the 1989 revolution, as the perception of this practice changed: commercial venues became symbols of modernity whereas food self provisioning and urban allotments in particular were marginalized as outdated remnants of the times of limited consumer options. Despite this decline, however, gardening is still a wide spread practice in the Czech Republic and other CEE countries, which is currently interacting with renewed interest in food systems inspired in Western Europe. I will show that urban gardening is in line with degrowth concepts such as conviviality, sharing economy, appreciation of reproductive work, commoning, reclaiming food systems and urban spaces, and so on. At the same time, its strong cultural and historical embeddedness makes it accessible for a wider range of actors than just the “usual suspects”, i.e. young, educated urban activists and conscious consumers. I claim that this kind of resilient traditional practices can constitute a unique, albeit unexpected, path towards degrowth in CEE.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „The Eastern-European gardening tradition through the lens of degrowth“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.