Sowing seeds, growing plants and eating their fruits is an ancient, mundane and seemingly universal practice. However, food self-provisioning—as we term this activity—is given different, contextually shaped meanings depending on where it is being performed. In this paper, we critique this tendency, looking at food self-provisioning in both the Western and Eastern European context. Comparing urban allotment gardens in the Netherlands and Czechia, we investigated the legitimacy of the diverse framings of this practice in the literature.
Urban gardening, which we simply consider to be food self-provisioning in an urban setting (i.e., in allotments, community gardens, backyards or public spaces), has attracted increased attention from both researchers and practitioners over the last two decades [1
]. However, this attention has developed along different lines in diverse geopolitical contexts: whereas the literature describes urban gardening in Western European countries as a multifunctional activity that can create valuable alternatives and as a trendy and ‘cool’ thing to do, in the Eastern European context it is often framed as a remnant of the socialist era and a coping strategy for the urban poor. Kosnik’s summary of the diverse framings of food self-provisioning is anecdotal, yet poignant:
Mainstream society conventionally associates self-provisioning with poverty, loss of comfort, or bare survival (Murton, Bavington, and Dokis 2016), with hippies returning to the land where they live in communes and try to revive a preindustrial lifestyle, and more currently with lifestyle trends of rooftop gardens and the like [4
] (p. 124).
The literature on urban gardening in Western Europe, and in the Global North in general, paints a diffuse but mostly positive and progressive picture of food self-provisioning. First, some literature relates urban gardens to localised and more sustainable food [1
] by mentioning these gardens alongside farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture initiatives and other alternative food networks. Second, urban gardens are presented as emerging spaces of resistance that combine the issue of the right to the city with the notions of food and health (in)equality and social (in)justice [7
]. In both these framings, urban gardens in the Global North are implicitly seen as activist spaces. Citizens are believed to engage in gardening because they want to create an alternative—either an alternative food system or an alternative urban space (although the extent to which urban gardens create such alternative spaces or whether they are in fact enabling neoliberalist forms of governance and/or greenwashing larger projects is still being discussed [1
]). Third, urban gardens are also presumed to have both environmental and social benefits for the urban environment. Timpe et al. [11
] mention their role in groundwater recharge, storm water retention, the maintenance of agrobiodiversity, the reduction of soil erosion and the improvement of soil fertility, amongst other ecosystem services. Gardens’ social effects are found in community building [2
], place-making [12
] and fostering social cohesion [13
]. In sum, the literature presents urban gardens as multifunctional spaces, emphasising that they offer more than just food production [14
While scholars assume that urban gardeners do grow some food, which potentially contributes to their diets [2
] as well as to food sovereignty and food security [16
], such claims are only rarely substantiated by empirical evidence (although exceptions can be found in reports by gardening initiatives [18
] and in academic literature [21
]). Knowledge about gardening’s actual contribution to the food supply is scarce because the proclaimed goals of gardening projects and their actual results are often conflated [1
]. The economic aspects of food self-provisioning are rarely mentioned either, neither with respect to gardeners’ motivations for growing food, nor considering food-growing’s impacts on household budgets. In sum, urban gardening in the Global North is mostly portrayed as a trendy hobby with social and environmental benefits and potential political meanings (related to food sovereignty and food justice, typical for the North American context, and environmental and food activism, as often mentioned in the European context). While urban gardens are at times framed as alternative food networks, we know little about their actual food production. The lack of systematic attention to gardens’ productive function is reflected by the rare use of the term food self-provisioning
in this context: the literature mostly uses the terms urban gardening
or urban agriculture
. Furthermore, scholars have paid disproportionally more attention to community gardens, while more traditional (and possibly more production-oriented) home gardens and allotments have only been studied to a limited extent [5
The literature on the Global South provides a nearly inverse picture. The main benefits attributed to urban gardening are poverty and hunger mitigation, food security, self-sufficiency and even potential income opportunities [26
]. The terms used in this context—food self-provisioning
, household food production
, subsistence agriculture
—signify an economically motivated activity with food production as a main goal. While practitioners might gain empowerment, independence or agency [27
], they are presumably not politically motivated. Notably, although the literature on urban gardening in the Global North partially overlaps with that on alternative food networks, growing food in the Global South is seldom portrayed as an alternative—contrarily, it is referred to as a ’common practice’ [1
Admittedly, the North–South divide described here is somewhat of a simplification. Even in the context of the Global North, urban gardening has been documented to serve economic needs in times of scarcity—the victory gardens that contributed to the food supply in Western Europe and the USA during the Second World War comprise a commonly cited case [28
]. Moreover, in the USA, community gardening is linked to issues of food (in)justice and community food security [17
], and scholars—while remaining critical of the neoliberal rolling back of the state—see community gardens as a way to empower marginalised communities and mitigate food deserts [29
]. The renewed interest in food self-provisioning in Southern Europe after the 2008 financial crisis was also theorised from the perspective of economic scarcity [30
]. This discourse has now reappeared with the COVID-19 crisis [31
]. It is thus more precise to say that the productive function of urban gardens receives greater emphasis in studies of marginalised groups and peripheral spaces (be they global or local) or situations of economic distress (be they temporary or long term). Nevertheless, these readings seem geopolitically conditioned to some extent, and urban gardens in the Global North and Global South are interpreted in diverging ways.
In addition, some geopolitical spaces seem almost excluded from the debate. As comparative research [32
] has shown, food self-provisioning as well as other informal food economies (e.g., foraging [33
]) are much more common in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) than in Western Europe. Given the recent interest in these topics, CEE’s long tradition of informal food economies could provide rich learning opportunities for food system scholars [34
]. These opportunities to learn, however, have not yet been seized: although there is a considerable body of literature on food self-provisioning in CEE [32
], these writings are rarely related to the current debates on multifunctional urban agriculture, spaces of resistance or environmentally sustainable food systems. Instead, examples of food self-provisioning in CEE are accompanied by a specific framing which distinguishes them from their Western European counterparts. Food self-provisioning is largely seen as a coping strategy, inherited from the socialist era during which it supposedly served as a source of food compensating for underdeveloped markets [32
Despite the massive economic transformation of CEE since the 1990s, these readings of food self-provisioning persist in some recent scholarship [38
]. The focus on the economic benefits of household food production resembles the aforementioned framing of urban gardening in the Global South. However, instead of being theorised through concepts of empowerment such as food sovereignty [16
], local economic development [26
] or community food security [17
], food self-provisioning in CEE is often described with negative undertones as a sign of underdevelopment, soon to be replaced by market mechanisms. Such path-dependent depictions have been challenged in a growing body of research that shows that purely economic motivations are rare amongst gardeners in CEE [40
In this paper, we aim to contribute to bridging the East–West divide in the literature on urban food self-provisioning by comparing allotment gardeners in the Netherlands and Czechia. Using an approach inspired by social practice theory, we investigated the extent to which these gardeners engage in different practices. Comparing their motivations for gardening as well as the actual importance of home-grown food in their diets, we explored whether the different interpretations of urban gardening in Western Europe and CEE are justified, or whether gardeners in both regions essentially do the same thing.
While the term we use—food self-provisioning
—is more common in literature on CEE, we aim to reclaim it, employing it to refer not to scarcity-driven subsistence, but to efforts to grow food and eat from one’s garden [41
]. By comparing how urban gardens serve as sources of food in both Western Europe and CEE, we seek to move beyond stereotypical accounts of urban gardening as either a trendy hobby practised by urban food activists or a traditional subsistence practice driven by economic need. Furthermore, by focusing on allotment gardens, we wish to underline the relevance of these traditional spaces of urban food self-provisioning. Lastly, the quantitative data presented in this paper fill the knowledge gap about the actual contribution of urban gardens in the Global North to the (alternative) food supply.
In what follows, we first discuss our theoretical approach, inspired by practice theory, after which we introduce our methods. In our results section, we present the practices of Dutch and Czech allotment gardeners, looking at both meanings and material outcomes. In the subsequent analysis, we discuss the framings described in this introduction, attempting to recognise whether the assumptions made in these framings manifest themselves in daily reality. We conclude that Dutch and Czech allotment gardeners do indeed perform the same practice, arguing that the dichotomy between economic need and activist endeavour is too simplistic. People have diverse motivations, many of which are quite mundane, for engaging in allotment gardening: researchers must resist the temptation to apply stereotypical categories.
2. Theoretical Approach
The theoretical approach adopted in this paper was inspired by practice theory. Practice theory contends that practices are the sites where understanding is structured and intelligibility articulated, and that both social order and individuality result from practices [43
]. A practice is defined as a concrete human activity, ‘a routinized type of behaviour which consists of several elements, interconnected to one other: forms of bodily activities, forms of mental activities, “things” and their use, a background knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how, states of emotion and motivational knowledge’ [44
] (p. 249). Gardening, cooking and eating can all be considered practices. Dobernig et al. [45
] conceptualise urban food growing as a distinct social practice, although they acknowledge that this practice combines diverse practices, both established and new, under one heading. The question we aim to answer in this paper is whether food self-provisioning in allotments—one of the sub-practices of urban food growing—can be seen as the same practice when performed in the Netherlands or in Czechia, or, in other words, whether Dutch and Czech allotment gardeners are ‘doing the same thing.’
The answer to this question depends on what we consider a practice to be: when do we argue that food self-provisioning in one context is in fact the same practice as food self-provisioning in another context? Practice theorists have not provided a clear answer to this question. Shove et al. [46
] argue that a practice is constituted by the people involved in it and by outsiders who recognise it as such. A practice thus becomes a practice through people’s participation, when they (and others) consider themselves to be engaging in that practice. Schatzki [43
] argues that a practice is a nexus of ‘doings’ and ‘sayings,’ linked by the understanding of the practice—knowing how to do it, knowing how to identify and attribute it, knowing how to prompt and respond to it. Therefore, while the dynamics of a practice contain and co-constitute the capabilities and preferences of the people involved [48
], people also perform practices in accordance with what they consider appropriate behaviour [49
]. In other words, practices articulate how people understand things and shape what makes sense to them, and how things make sense is in turn articulated in practices [50
]. This means that we can speak of a practice when people know how a practice is appropriately performed and when that idea is shared amongst practitioners: if they have different ideas about how a practice is to be performed, we may in fact be seeing different practices. People’s ideas about how a practice is to be performed are expressed in both their doings—bodily movements, things, practical knowledge and routines [44
]—and their sayings—how they articulate what they do and why this is appropriate.
Hence, to understand whether food self-provisioning in allotments in Czechia and the Netherlands can indeed be considered the same practice, we investigate gardeners’ actual performances of food self-provisioning, as well as their understandings of the practice. This dual view on what food self-provisioning means enables us to study what is actually happening on the ground: both in practical, pragmatic terms (e.g., how much people grow) and in terms of people’s own views on their practice (e.g., how people themselves talk about what is happening and why they engage in food self-provisioning). As a result, we will be able to look beyond more theoretical views on urban gardening which may, for instance, link it to rather abstract phenomena such as the global food system, urban environmental issues, economic struggles or social capital.
Studying performances and understandings (doings and sayings) thus enables us to comprehend whether food self-provisioning in allotments in the Netherlands and in Czechia should be seen as one or two distinct practices. These two constitutive elements facilitate our operationalisation of the practice, as we detail in the next section. This approach also usefully addresses existing knowledge gaps in two ways. First, an investigation of actual food growing (doings) provides data about urban gardens as sources of food, which are rare, especially in the context of the Global North. Second, understanding people’s motivations for gardening and the meanings they give to this activity (sayings) enables us to confirm or contest assumptions about people’s motivations for gardening (e.g., whether or not it is an economically motivated practice, and whether or not it is guided by activist endeavours to create a different food system).
Finally, we should define the practice of food self-provisioning: by self-provisioning we mean growing food and eating (part of) what is harvested as a result of that activity. It consists of both gardening and food provisioning, and we see it as an intersection of these two practices. Food self-provisioning also relates to and influences other practices we touch upon, most notably shopping (the more one eats from the garden, the less one has to buy), but also preserving or distributing the harvest.
3. Materials and Methods
To understand to what extent food self-provisioning in Czech and Dutch allotments can be seen as the same practice, we investigated both its practical reality (performances, or doings) and the way people perceive and understand that practical reality (understandings, or sayings). We used food logs to study practical reality and semi-structured interviews to understand motivations and reasonings. While our research design introduces quantitative data to the debate on the productive function of urban gardens, our work is qualitative in nature. We aim for an in-depth understanding of the practice of allotment gardening rather than an extensive overview of gardening in both countries. In line with this position, our research sample is relatively small, comprising eleven Dutch and eleven Czech allotment gardeners. The Dutch data were gathered by master’s student Kylie Totté, whose thesis was supervised by both authors of this paper. She also recruited the Dutch participants. The Czech data were gathered by the first author.
3.1. Food Logs
We used food logs to study how much gardeners eat from their gardens and how that relates to the total amount of fruits, vegetables and potatoes they eat. Eleven Dutch and eleven Czech gardeners kept a food log for four weeks during summer. Every time the participants harvested produce, went grocery shopping, or obtained fruits, vegetables and potatoes in another way, they noted in the food log what it was, the quantity, where it came from and how it was used (own consumption, preserved or given away). Respondents received instructions about how to do this, including an example of a filled-out page (see Table 1
Food logs are suitable for a research design with a small respondent sample, as they demand an above-average level of commitment from research participants. The main benefit of this method is that it allows researchers to obtain very accurate data on households’ food provisioning practices and is presumably more precise than respondents’ self-reporting, which is commonly used in research on food production in urban gardens (exceptions include the Farming Concrete initiative in New York City [20
], Capital Growth in London [18
] and the recent British project MYHarvest [19
], which devised their own tools to measure harvests; food logs similar to ours were employed by Pourias et al. [24
]). We used food logs to observe the material outcomes, the performance or the ‘doings’ of the practice of food self-provisioning. In other words, we aimed to grasp how urban allotments contribute to gardeners’ food supplies, beyond the verbal accounts of research participants.
Czech respondents kept logs in August 2014, and Dutch respondents, from mid-August to mid-September 2017 (depending on their summer holidays, some respondents started in the second week of August, others in the third). We consider four weeks to be enough to understand eating practices related to gardens and their links to harvesting and shopping practices. While climatic conditions differ slightly in the two countries—Czechia has warmer summers, but its colder winters mean that Dutch gardeners have a longer growing season—the period selected for data collection marks the peak of the garden season in both locations. The timing of the data collection therefore allows rich insights into the productive function of allotment gardens. It also implies, however, that our findings about harvest amounts should be interpreted in the light of the seasonality of the practice: the data cannot be easily extrapolated to the rest of the year or different climatic conditions.
3.2. Semi-Structured Interviews
To understand the motivations for food self-provisioning and allotment gardening, decision-making about cultivating and buying food, the usage of the harvest and shopping practices, semi-structured interviews were conducted with all respondents. Interviews took place in the same months the food logs were kept and were conducted in either Dutch or Czech. Participants were visited either at their home or in their allotment, depending on their preferences. Interviews took thirty minutes to one hour and were recorded and transcribed. Respondents filled out informed consent forms and allowed the authors of this paper to read the interview transcripts for this study.
Interview questions focused on participants’ motivations for gardening and food self-provisioning, and we inquired about their history with this practice. We asked about the practicalities of food self-provisioning: how much of the garden area is dedicated to food production, which crops respondents grow and why, how they use their harvest and to what extent it covers their households’ consumption of fruits, vegetables and potatoes.
Respondents were recruited in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Brno, Czechia. These cities are comparable in terms of population (Brno, with 380,000 inhabitants, is slightly larger than Utrecht, with 353,000). Both are major cities in their countries, but neither is the capital or the largest city (Brno is the second-largest Czech city in terms of population; Utrecht is the fourth-largest Dutch city). Respondents were recruited in cooperation with allotment officials (e.g., using allotment mailing lists and through their contacts) and by using snowball sampling. Dutch respondents garden in four different allotment sites. It is worth noting that these allotment sites have rules that promote environmentally friendly gardening techniques: the names of two of these complexes even include the word ecological, and another has obtained the highest qualification from the Dutch Label Natural Gardening (Nationaal Keurmerk Natuurlijk Tuinieren). The fourth encourages using natural gardening techniques on its website. While we did not specifically look for complexes with such rules, this reflects the general trend in Dutch allotment complexes to promote environmentally friendly gardening methods. In Czechia, the research was carried out in three allotment sites. These sites do not set rules about gardening techniques.
Only gardeners who grow fruit or vegetables were selected for the study. Both Dutch and Czech respondents received a small reward (a €20 gift voucher or 500 CZK, which is approximately the same amount) as a token of our appreciation for their participation in the study. The respondent sample is introduced in Table 2
. The age of Dutch respondents ranged from 55 to 69 years old; the average was 63. Six were women; five were men. Most respondents lived alone or with a spouse; only two lived in larger households (three or four people). Plot sizes ranged from 100 m2
to 500 m2
; the average was 251 m2
. Two respondents tended two plots. The Czech sample included nine women and two men. Ages ranged from 28 to 70; the average was 54. Most respondents lived in two-person households. Plot sizes were between 200 m2
and 240 m2
. To preserve respondents’ anonymity, we refer to them by numbers in the results section, as CZ1–11 and NL1–11. While our sample is small and does not aspire to represent the gardening populations in both countries, we believe that it provides valuable insights into how allotment gardening is practiced in Czechia and the Netherlands.
Most gardeners used paper notebooks as their food logs. We entered the data into Excel spreadsheets and categorised them to facilitate analysis. We developed several categories: ones for types of food (fruits, vegetables, exotic crops, potatoes), food sources (supermarkets, organic shops, outdoor markets, etc.), and ways of using food (own consumption, preserves and stocks, gifting and sharing, selling). In the process, we corrected imprecisions in the data, related mostly to the weight of the food: while we instructed respondents to record quantities of foods in units of weight, even if only estimated, some records also included units such as pieces. We constructed a list of average weights of different types of fruits and vegetables (using several online sources as well as our own measurements) to estimate the weights of these foods.
Interview transcripts were manually coded in an iterative process. While we sought to associate gardeners’ practices with one of two narratives on urban gardening—one focused on economic motivation, the other on conscious activism—we did not introduce these framings in the interviews to avoid influencing respondents’ own understandings. Instead, we charted the economic aspects of respondents’ gardening practices in the questions regarding their motivations for food self-provisioning and their use of the harvest (food log data also contributed to understanding the latter). We assumed that economic motivations or the ambition to grow as much food as possible for subsistence would appear amongst gardeners’ reasons for food provisioning. Furthermore, we expected that economically motivated gardeners would produce more food for household consumption, possibly sell some of their produce, and limit gifting and nonreciprocal sharing.
Similarly, we analysed several indicators to establish whether the food self-provisioning of our respondents can be seen as an activist endeavour aimed at creating an alternative to the dominant food system. First, we analysed respondents’ motivations expressed in interviews, identifying topics related to the environmental impacts of food provisioning. We investigated gardeners’ reported growing methods and the use of agrochemicals in particular as a proxy for environmentally friendly behaviour. Furthermore, we explored participants’ shopping habits to assess the extent to which they engage in conscious consumption. Food logs allowed us to evaluate respondents’ use of ‘alternative’ food sources such as buying food directly from farmers or shopping in organic shops. Shopping habits and their rationale also came up in some of the interviews.
The question we set out to answer in this paper is whether Dutch and Czech allotment gardeners perform the same practice. Our argument is that, if they do, gardeners in both countries would be ‘doing the same thing’, thus disproving the diverging framings of food growing in the two contexts. Although defining a practice can be difficult [46
], we chose to focus on doings and sayings, contending that when both overlap we are talking about (variations of) the same practice, and that when they do not, food growing in these two different contexts are different practices: ‘when distinct practices display many commonalities while the carriers do not recognise them as the same practice, for instance because they attach different meaning to their practices (...), these practices remain different ones’ [50
] (p. 109).
Our research shows that, on average, respondents in both countries are more than 50 percent self-sufficient in fruits, potatoes and vegetables during the summer harvest. Gardens thus contribute to these people’s diets, and while the quantities differ between the two countries, in both cases the harvests are substantial. Moreover, practitioners in both countries preserve part of their harvest (although more in the Czech case), and they also share some of their produce with others. Hence, while the specific details of the materiality of the gardens may differ—what crops are grown, for instance—there are also great commonalities: what the gardeners do is similar.
Our results suggest that Dutch gardeners are a little more ‘environmentally conscious’ in their shopping behaviour and the environmental considerations they are able to express. Moreover, using natural gardening techniques (i.e., gardening without chemical fertilisers and pesticides) is considered ‘appropriate conduct’ in the food self-provisioning practices of our Dutch respondents, whereas for Czech respondents participating in this practice may involve using such chemicals. Nevertheless, for all gardeners the importance of gardening lies in the possibilities it provides to be outside, to be physically active, to find pride in growing fresh produce, to meet others—in other words, to enjoy a hobby. Understandings of the practice are thus largely similar as well. We argue, therefore, that allotment gardening, as performed by the Dutch and Czech gardeners in our sample, is the same practice. While our sample is too small to draw general conclusions, it suggests that variations on the practice are found between individuals rather than structurally between the two contexts.
As such, our research complements large-scale quantitative studies on gardening populations in different European countries [52
] and invites future comparative studies. To our knowledge, comparisons of gardening practices in CEE and Western Europe are rare, as scholarship on both regions comprises largely separate literatures. However, existing studies of allotment gardens provide insights that support the findings of this paper, as the motivations for gardening and the values appreciated by gardeners remain similar across diverse contexts. Enjoying gardening as a social activity and a meaningful way of spending free time while obtaining fresh vegetables was mentioned by gardeners in Almere (the Netherlands) and Oslo [54
]. Food provisioning, social life, health, the connection with nature and leisure were amongst the most appreciated garden functions in Paris and Montreal [55
]. Studies from CEE provide a similar picture: having a meaningful hobby and producing fresh and healthy food motivate allotment gardeners in Prague [56
]. The intertwined dimensions of self-fulfilment, social life, the connection to nature and tasty food with transparent origins are appreciated by gardeners in Estonia [42
]. A systematic comparison of these and other studies from CEE and Western Europe is required to further explore the similarities and differences in the meanings of (allotment) gardening, and possibly also in its material performances. As a starting point for such a review, our research suggests that high quality food and the enjoyability of gardening play a more important role for allotment gardeners than both economic and activist motivations.
Our findings are relevant for research aiming to understand different urban food initiatives emerging across diverse contexts. Indeed, the diversity of urban food growing initiatives is large, ‘ranging from small-scale window farming to allotment and community gardens to large-scale rooftop farms and hydroponic greenhouses’ [45
] (p. 153). Furthermore, research highlights that specific types of initiatives may play out differently in different contexts, leading to different understandings and performances of the practices involved. Taking examples from CEE and Western Europe, the existing literature documents diverse adaptations of farmers’ markets [57
], collective farmer marketing initiatives [58
] and consumer cooperatives [59
] shaped by local contexts. While we value the finding that insights from a particular context are not necessarily applicable to other contexts, our study indicates that the opposite can also be true: a particular type of urban food initiative might take on similar forms in different places. In some cases, differences between contexts may be smaller than those between the various types of urban food initiatives. In other words, allotment gardening in different contexts may be more similar than, for instance, allotment gardening and community gardening or community-supported agriculture in the same context, as was shown by previous studies [25
]. In that respect, our results do not necessarily apply to other types of urban food self-provisioning but only to allotment gardening. Further research could expand on the differences between allotment gardening and other types of urban agriculture, and the extent to which these other types show similarities across contexts.
Our finding that allotment gardening in different contexts can be considered the same practice is perhaps explained by the fact that it is a relatively old form of food self-provisioning. Dobernig et al. [45
] argue that urban food growing is an emerging practice since the meaning of the practice is changing, the links between its constitutive elements are transforming and the relations with other practices are developing. However, they are referring to comparatively more recent urban food growing initiatives, that is, community gardening and rooftop gardening. Allotment gardening has existed for centuries, and therefore the meanings and performances of this practice, while changing over time, may have already ’settled.’ In fact, the historical origins of allotments in Europe can be traced back to the same roots—the first allotments in both the Netherlands and Czechia were inspired by the same ethos of providing urban workers with a meaningful leisure activity that enhanced health and access to fresh food [28
]. Hence, in contrast to community gardens, which are, especially in the North American context, more often established as grassroots initiatives by those reclaiming urban spaces and seeking food justice, allotments were typically started in a more top-down fashion as a form of philanthropy or ‘people’s betterment,’ which may explain why they are still hardly associated with such activist discourses (see also [25
Despite the different contexts of both countries, we contend that allotment gardening in Czechia and in the Netherlands is a rather similar practice, and we disprove both of the diverging framings present in the literature: our Czech respondents are not involved in gardening practices mainly for economic reasons, and our Dutch respondents do not self-provision in order to consume food more sustainably. In terms of harvest quantities, the Czech gardeners did not differ from the Dutch respondents, and none of them expressed the wish or need to produce as much as possible for subsistence. As a matter of fact, the Dutch respondents were more self-sufficient and thus arguably used their gardens more economically. To our surprise, Dutch gardeners—and not Czech ones—sold part of their produce, although this practice was mostly described in terms of using the harvest well, instead of in terms of financial gain. Sharing food with others is a much more common practice in both countries, performed to deal with excess harvest or simply to strengthen bonds with friends and family. Environmental consciousness, that is, the awareness of one’s ecological footprint, is arguably more normalised in the Netherlands, which is also illustrated by the allotments’ guidelines on natural gardening. However, we have seen that awareness does not always translate into actions. That said, the practice of food self-provisioning can, in both cases, be framed as quiet sustainability: an everyday practice which is not performed with explicit environmental goals but nevertheless results in beneficial environmental outcomes [60
]. We conclude, therefore, with an appeal: research on more sustainable food provisioning needs to learn from existing practices grounded in diverse traditions and geographical contexts. While more novel forms of urban food production can be more attractive for both scholars and policymakers, traditional food practices such as allotment gardening might hold equal relevance for local food systems and are thus worthy of attention and support.