• Addina F

Bandung Berkebun as a City Community Garden that Enlarged to the Country Scale

Bandung is the second largest metropolitan city in Indonesia, and as a metro city, Bandung is facing many problems. One of the most significant issues in town is the vast amount of negative spaces in the city. Bandung Berkebun started in 2011 through social media discussion with the aim to utilize the negative space into a community garden. Bandung Berkebun has made a significant impact on the city and makes the negative areas productive for the citizen. This positive spirit eventually grows to other cities (in total 34 cities) and becomes the most significant community in the country. This article will discuss the context and general aspects of the community and the initiative they create. Moreover, the composition will try to analyze the factors that could be the aspects so that this initiative could be enlarged on a significant scale in Indonesia based on some journals, articles and the experiences of the author over her acquired experiences in Bandung for two years and acknowledge the community by herself.


Bandung is the capital of West Java province with a total area of 166 square meters filled with 2.5 billion people. The town suffers from air pollution because of the traffic and people tend to use private cars or motorcycles rather than public transportation. Moreover, the vast amount of abandoned space in the city, and some of the green area of the town is taken over by commercial building development. These problems are common problems in several cities in Indonesia. The urge to change the current public structure has to lead the concerned citizens to create communities or initiatives to form more co-operative solutions for the issues.

Thus, in 2010, the initiator of Bandung Berkebun1 started a discussion through social media. Regarding the data released by the Landscape Agency in 2010 that Bandung only had 8,8% of green space despite the number of unproductive areas in the city. The definition of sterile spaces is the space under the flyover, the abandoned park lot, field, building construction, and other various areas in the neighborhood.

The discussion attracted citizens from various backgrounds such as architects, experts, social media influencers, entrepreneurs, students, and homemakers. The dynamic discussion has to lead the ideas to become a real movement with a spirit to create a better city for themselves.

Bandung Berkebun as an Initiative

Bandung Berkebun which means gardening in Bandung is a community garden initiative created from the discussion mentioned before, with the aim to transform unproductive spaces in the city into a community garden. Their goal is to be able to engage people to do gardening and trying to utilize the spaces to become productive gardens. Aside from gardening, Bandung Berkebun educates other groups of the citizens through sharing sessions about gardening and green lifestyle to build awareness about the environment and sustainability.

The initiative is a non-profit activity and purely volunteering. For people who want to join the events, they can find the information for the routine operations and participate on the spot. Furthermore, all the funding of the gardening activities for the community is derived from the donations given by donors.

The first gardening activity was in February 2011 and started quite successful with 150 people involved. The first and become the pilot area to work on is the abandoned field located in two selected villages in which the community already got permission from the local municipality regarding the activity. The variety of the plants depends on the media and condition of the spaces, but most are vegetables such as; kale, spinach, bok choy, cucumber, lettuce, or spring onion. By the end of the session, the people who continuously join the activity in the garden could be able to harvest the outcome in the harvesting day.

There are no boundaries for who can take the outcome, but mostly the social punishment from the neighborhood will do if something terrible happened. In this way, people will have more respect for the gardens since they know that there were people who put hard work into it. Started from that, the activity becomes routine every weekend run by anyone who wants to do the operation. Slowly the local association in other village absorb the movement and start doing so utilize unproductive space nearby. There was 151 local associations2 began as a pilot project of the initiative with guidance from 50 fixed expert volunteers from the community until 2014.

The Impact of the Initiative

Based on The Report of Government of Bandung in 2014, Bandung Berkebun has a significant impact on the city. One of the indicators is about 70% of the associations that following the pilot program can get economic value added to their area of living.

The Head of Landscape Agency made a statement that the mindset of the citizen was slowly changing and they could be able to be responsible for their community garden. Overall, the gardens are ready to be harvested from three to four times a year depending on the type of the garden. The people in the community could use it for themselves or sell it depends on their compromise. For example, in the Pasanggrahan Ujungberung area, the association collaborates with a street food vendor and sells 10 kilograms of spring onion after harvested. In this way, people have the motivation to take care of their community garden.

Six months after the first activity in Bandung in 2011, another city started to absorb the initiative’s movement and replicate it in their town under the same name except for the city name. The first city that incorporates this initiative was Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. Furthermore, the community collaborates with some schools and universities to spread the ‘gardening virus’ to the youth generation. The community and its initiative become more prominent after that.

Nowadays, the community creates the official networks called Indonesia Berkebun which means gardening in Indonesia. This networking is spreading in 34 cities and nine prominent universities in Indonesia. The networks are actively doing gardening activities and spread awareness through social media. Nowadays, about 4000 people actively join the initiative and became one of the most significant communities in Indonesia. Bandung Berkebun received several awards such as Google Asia Pacific Award for Web-Heroes (2011) and Inspiring Movement for Environment from Nutrifood (2013) in the South East Asia region. Thus, make the network become stronger, bigger, and received more fundings for the activities. The community and initiative already settled in each city until the present day.


Bandung Berkebun was started only from one city, but the idea was spreading all over the country. The phenomenon leads to some inquiries regarding the aspects that could be the main points to establish and gain interest in various kinds of people.

Bandung Berkebun is a bottom-up initiative in which is activated by ordinary people who defined as ‘active citizens’. (Daëron et al., 2018). Bandung Berkebun using creativity and a sort of ‘design thinking’ approach together as a society through social media, this is why these groups of citizens may be viewed as actual creative communities: “people who cooperatively invent, enhance, and manage innovative solutions for new ways of living” (Meroni, 2007). Other than that, Bandung Berkebun is one of the social innovation that provides collaborations for society. Based on the Young Foundation statement about the definition of social innovation: New ideas (products, services, and models) that simultaneously meet social needs and create social relationships or collaborations. In other words, they are innovations that are both good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act (Murray et al., 2010).

Bandung Berkebun is involving various backgrounds of citizens, such as lectures, architects, designers, social media influencers, entrepreneurs, students, and the elderly. Bandung Berkebun has one of the core of social innovation with its openness and participation from a varied background of the citizen in the community. The involvement of users at every stage as well as experts, bureaucrats, and professionals; designing platforms that make it easy to assemble project teams or virtual organizations (Murray et al., 2010).

Another aspect that able as one of the central points for this community is that the initiator of the community is a person from the prominent university in Indonesia. Universities have a role to play in the cultural development of the community and the wider region (Chatterton, 1999). The students of the universities have the urge and motivation to join the community because of the influence of its initiator, who is their favorable lecture.

In this sense, universities become one of the most significant contributors to the group of people involved such as students, lecturers, and professionals, especially for Bandung Berkebun. As Lash (1989) commented: There has developed in the past decade or two a mass audience for previously specific cultural forms. Part of this results from the explosion of the student population, which is now a ‘morphological’ factor in the social field. Thus, as the present condition, we can see the joining of other eight prominent universities in Indonesia for the initiative to make it even more significant.

However, making and performing together the activity may have a great educational value for the society as a whole, fostering changes in behavior and increasing the awareness of the possibility of improving the current situation. (Daëron et al., 2018).

Based on the observation and experience of the author, one of the important things that leads the community to become a massive initiative in the country was the involvement of the citizen with various backgrounds. The influence and the social media effect in general affecting the community in a positive way. Bandung Berkebun grows its network based on the social media and people collaboration in each city.

People participate because they like it, but at the same time, because they need to. However, in all the observed cases, social innovations seem to happen only if there is both need and the will to do something about it (that is an appropriate combination of wishes and needs). The statement describes Bandung Berkebun community and Indonesia Berkebun networks the best. As in the situation where the citizens aware of the issue and need to be active and proactive to solve the problem by participating in the community.

The city needs citizens’ collaboration for the development because of engaging citizens could change the processes. Citizens played a critical role in redesigning the system. The result of the collaboration between local and national authorities, experts, and local citizens will formulate and will be implemented as a series of community- based interventions (Murray et al., 2010).

Later on, this social innovation called Bandung Berkebun is started to grow to the country scale and becoming a huge network called Indonesia Berkebun. The community's initiative remains as a catalyst to the society not only in a village or the city but on a bigger and stronger scale. The community garden initiative created by Bandung Berkebun was able to become a definite trigger for some cities in Indonesia with a similar problem because of the participation of the citizens as a catalyst for the initiative itself.

(AF, 2018)

Temporary Urban Solutions

Politecnico di Milano