StreetRoots is an on-street allotment service designed to allow those with little or no garden space to safely and easily utilise underused liminal spaces outside or near their homes for gardening.
The quality of our lives is enriched by the social fabric which surrounds us, but increasingly people are becoming less involved and connected to the communities in which they live. Design a public service around the theme of neighbourhood networks. Consider what public services can and should be offered to neighbourhoods and find ways to make that happen given today’s opportunities and the challenges of the future.
Consider how neighbourhoods functioned in the past, understand how neighbourhoods function now, and imagine ways that neighbourhoods should function in the future.
PROOF OF CONCEPT VIDEO
We chose to focus our research in the Liberties, specifically Meath St. and the network of small residential streets which adjoin it. We spoke to a variety of shop owners, workers and residents old and new.
There was a sense from older residents that newer residents don’t have much pride in the area. They did not resent the influx of new residents in recent times but wished that they would engage more in the local community. Almost everyone we spoke to talked about the great sense of history and community but felt that it was dwindling and changing. It’s an area that has changed rapidly in the last few years.
Green space, both public and private, is at a premium. There are 3 sets of allotments in the area, one of which is about to close down for redevelopment and there are currently 111 people on the waiting list for an allotment. People use what they can, where they can and there is a burgeoning culture of street gardening in the area. Those we spoke to who have allotments spoke of the positive sense of community within those spaces; the conversations, the produce sharing, the gardening tips.
Could we build on this to make it easier, better and more accessible?
Could we draw more people out onto the street and thereby provide more opportunities for engagement with neighbours and the wider community?
Could we make the street an allotment?
Street Roots is a service which easily enables residents to use their street as a garden space.
How could it work?
• Resident asks for a planting box outside their home
• StreetRoots look at the location and provide an appropriately sized box
• If there isn’t enough space outside the home, or the resident would like additional space, they can look at other available locations nearby
• Maybe their neighbour doesn’t like gardening but wouldn’t mind having a box outside their house? Our service could facilitate allocation and sharing of spaces like this.
Prototyping + Testing
To test the concept we created a sample planting box and placed it on Gray Street for 4 days. It included a poster with information about the concept and contact details for further information. We created a website with more details and a feedback form and leafleted 30 houses in the immediate area. We also spent time on the street speaking to passers-by at various points over the 4 days to elicit feedback. Feedback was also gathered through the online form and email responses.
If we had more time...
• Now that we have made connections in the community we would like to run a longer term user test with a number of residents
• Work with DCC Beta to develop potential expanded trial
• Further develop physical design of boxes and construction methods
• Consider costings and funding potential
• Look further at educational programming