Car Park Cultivation [2011]

Turning tarmac into dinner!

The plot on the busy South Circular Road in Dublin city was an abandoned car parking lot. It was covered in old, scrubby tarmac and -like countless other sites in Ireland in 2007- it was in the queue for planning permission to develop it into a 3-story apartment block. Artist and local resident, Seoidín O’Sullivan, approached the landowner and he gave permission for a group of residents to use the site as a temporary community garden.

Together they slowly transformed the wasteland into a thriving, vibrant, urban garden. Each Saturday an interesting cross-section of people come together, they get their hands dirty and they grow their own vegetables.

The charming simplicity of it all belies deeper, less obvious, socio-political complexities. In growing their own food they quietly turn their back on the global food market with it’s huge price hikes and carbon emissions; by growing organic food and seed saving they resist the genetic ownership and the copyrighting of nature; and by growing food communally in a voluntary, not-for-profit way in a small plot in Dublin city earmarked for development since 2007 one could nearly believe that the corpse of the property-driven Celtic tiger might make excellent compost. This is more than vegetables, it is spores of resistance, germinating action and blossoming community.

Due to Ireland’s economic downturn it is unlikely the apartment development on this piece of land will go ahead any time in the near future, and this garden is now part of a budding network of community gardens that are flourishing in disused plots and abandoned sites around the country.

This short, site-specific documentary is an audio-visual postcard from Dublin’s South Circular Road community garden. It is a film about the people who have transformed this abandoned car park in the city into a thriving oasis of biodiversity. Filmed from winter to harvest in the 2009 gardening season ‘Car Park Cultivation’ introduces us to some of the resident gardeners as they relate how they got involved, and what motivates them. They acknowledge some of the challenges that come from working communally, and they gently disclose some of the quiet joys they reap from getting their hands dirty each week with other folk from their neighbourhood.


Directed, Filmed and Edited by:
Aoibheann O’Sullivan and Nigel Heather


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