Rome Neighborhood Studies: Urban Agriculture and Community in Rome

Community garden in foreground, with several high-rise buildings in the background

Community garden in Casal di Pazzi. photo / George Frantz

In spring 2019, CRP 4160 Rome Workshop students under the direction of Visiting Critic Gregory Smith and Associate Professor of the Practice George Frantz explored two neighborhoods on the Italian city's periphery. The localities are physical embodiments of a newer layer of the ancient city. Bravetta Pisana and Casal de Pazzi came into being in the late 19th and early 20th century and Frantz's students explored these neighborhoods as part of an investigation of community gardens in the city.

Community gardens on their face appear to be innocuously simple, yet they embody a complex framework of social, cultural, and economic relations that extend well beyond the garden gates. This can create tension — between competing claims to the land, between citizens and government, between garden members and their respective visions and priorities, and between the gardens and surrounding community. In the students' explorations, in fact, the community gardens evolved from being the primary topic to being the backdrop to numerous other exchanges, conflicts, and other interactions within the larger community.

After a thorough examination, one student team delivered its recommendations for Bravetta Pisana. They made suggestions to make Consolata Urban Garden Park more accessible and to create a new, multifunctional urban space in place of a market and gas station, which would serve as a public community space for residents to gather and connect. A second student team suggested interventions for Casal de Pazzi. Having found it to be a disjointed neighborhood, the team recommended the construction of a physical bridge to connect the garden and market, as well as a social bridge to connect multiple generations of residents.