Radical Allotment Gardens (ROD) Collective is a young group of people has been created in Warsaw, Poland in March 2015. The basis for our collective is an initiative which is autonomous, voluntary and self-organized, free from any kind of hierarchy and discrimination. Members of the collective are involved in Reclaim the Fields movement (to reclaim it from the global market) by occupying and ecologically using the area of the allotment gardens, in order to protect it from devastation by developers. ROD is a kind of a laboratory where in radical and friendly conditions we learn knowledge and skills to do with planting vegetables and herbs, producing energy from renewable sources, food processing, constructing spaces, tools, things for everyday use and organizing a social life for the community and the neighborhood, using different tactics of resistance and struggle against capitalism. We strive for self-sufficiency and sovereignty, and we work in accordance with the principle of do it yourself.
The history of ROD Collective began on March 14th, 2015, during the meeting about an international network of radical ecological projects – Reclaim The Fields. In warsaw squat Syrena about 30 people discussed the problem of land-grabbing and the need to take the land back.
Family Allotment Gardens (ROD) „Bartycka” were founded in 1981 in public-owned area. The gardens were divided between families, usufructuaries by law. Each family has a small garden. It means that people can use the land but they are not the owners. They only own items in this area (for example wooden houses, tools, furnitures) and plants. For over 30 years they were using this ground for planting and recreation. The situation changed 7 years ago, when a group of people previously not connected with the Allotment Gardens set up a court case and took over a big part of the area, exploiting a usucaption law allowing a 5-year occupier to be granted ownership. Just after that the new owner sold the rights to the land to Dom Development Company (one of the biggest developers in Poland). A smaller section further away still belongs to the city. Dom Development applied to the court to evict usufructuaries of the plots but the judge rejected the request. Then the company initiated forceful measures: one day, constructors and security thugs demolished several plots and built a fence across many of the gardens. Several gardeners were sued (their personal data having leaked out by unknown means) for usufruct payments equivalent to a dozen thousand euro. The Warsaw authorities left gardeners on their own, and even have supported the developers, pestering the Garden Board with control inspections and threatening them with dozen thousand of euro in fines in order to have the gardeners’ personal data revealed.
Repressions aggreviated last year, when the company banned gardeners from doing any works in the allotments under the threat of not being paid refunds for the gardens taken away. As a gardener reports, “I can’t even fix a hole in my roof”. The entire Family Allotment Gardens “Bartycka” had their water and electricity supplies cut off, even in the officially city-owned part which is not under the business’s “jurisdiction”. Let us mention the fact, that the allotment usufructuaries are still obliged to pay their annual bills, including water and electricity. A gardener who stops paying these, would be rejected from the Polish Garden Allotment Union and would not be entitled to compensation. But there is more to it. Last year, there has been an increase in thefts, mostly in the early spring. Nearly every house, especially in the area taken over, was robbed of items of value and damaged. Valuable plants were dug out. What was not stolen, was left outside, as if to show the allotment usufructuaries that it is the moment for them to leave the garden plots. Several houses burned down. The value of the gardeners’ property is dropping fast. Many of them have had enough. Intimidated, feeling failed and hopeless, negative towards the Garden Board and to each other, they stopped coming. The gardens started to become empty.
Today we know that Dom Development Company started another investments in other parts of this district as well – they are going (among the others) to destroy next allotment gardens and even evict Space Reaserch Centre Polish Academy of Sciences, which has many important scientific achievements and continues to progress. Warsaw authorities remain indifferent to all this situations. The developer’s profit is more important than green spaces, the needs of ordinary people or the development of science.
What we do/ what we’ve achieved:
ROD collective has been working for 4 months. We started occupy some part of the family allotment gardens and created an eco village. During this time we were able to prepare several cottages, built a water installation and small 12V system, prepared and sow three small vege-gardens, built few constructions like tipi, bender or water towers, started build a ROD Day Room (a social space with library, infokiosk, computers, coffee – bar, oven etc). The big challenge is to establish the positive relationships with old users-gardeners from this area and attempt to radicalize them or at least involved them into resistance. But every month we gain new allies.
If you want to read more about ROD Collective we invite you to read the zin about our history.
photo gallery : https://reclaimthefieldspl.noblogs.org/rod-gallery/
more informations from ROD (in polish and english): https://reclaimthefieldspl.noblogs.org/wiedza-i-umiejenosci/
(source: https://reclaimthefieldspl.noblogs.org )