Co-creating allotment gardens with stakeholders 

Stakeholder co-creation in developing allotment gardens. Credit: B.Green project.


More than 20 community gardens have been established in Tallinn as residents’ initiatives involving over 1000 gardeners. Opportunities for the establishment of personal allotment plots were created to raise awareness of the potential for urban gardening and its positive effects. The pilot in the Pelguaed area aimed to develop a new type of urban green area as a symbiosis of a community garden, an educational garden and an allotment garden in the form of stakeholder co-creation. The idea was to develop a preliminary landscape design and a concept for how the garden might work in the future, taking account of the needs of the many different stakeholders and the requirement for suitability for a number of different purposes. The project is part of the Pollinator Highway, where city residents can grow food, spend their free time and organise community events and outdoor education. 

Description of practice


● First, the idea of creating an allotment garden was summarised in an initial vision of how the future garden should look, the goals of developing the garden and who it is targeted at.

● Next, a suitable location was found for a garden in the city space. The municipally owned area had to be large enough to create plots and easily accessible. A suitable area was found in Pelgulinn, on the Pollinator Highway, between garages in the former high-voltage corridor.

● Many Estonian cities have experience of Soviet-era self-created gardens operating without permission with a chaotic appearance unsuitable for the urban environment. Preliminary landscape design was therefore needed to demonstrate the visual uniformity of the area. The local community, the district administration, other community gardeners and urban planners were involved in preparing the initial specification for the landscape architect.

● During the design of the garden, it became clear that future garden management might be complicated and time-consuming. Professional service designers were hired to help create an appropriate, modern and comprehensive service delivery process model that took an innovative approach and would be sustainable in the long run.

● The service design process was a collaborative activity in which multiple stakeholders contributed to the creation of an innovative process model that resolves the provision of the service from the perspective of both the district council and the non-governmental organisation, and ensures cost-effectiveness and efficient use of time. 

Who was involved  

In addition to the project manager, the entire Pollinator Highway project team from the Tallinn Strategy Centre; representatives of the North Tallinn Administration, both politicians and specialists; the City of Tallinn Urban Environment and Public Works Department; representatives of the Pelgu Community Garden; and representatives of other community gardens were involved throughout, as well as professional landscape designers and service designers. 

Promotion and communication 

Creation of the landscape architectural solution and the design process are still in progress. The main public promotion activities are still in the future. Thus far, the project been publicised in the local media, at the experience day on community gardens, in online webinars and on the project website. 


Resources: The main resource needed is time for the project manager and interested parties.

Skills: Communication and involvement skills are considered very important, as some parties have experienced so-called involvement fatigue. Knowledge of gardening, especially urban gardening, is also required. 

Time commitment 

Preparatory activities began in the autumn of 2020, when an area large enough to create a garden was identified, relations with the local community were established and desires and opportunities were mapped.

Fieldwork, such as volumetric tests, soil surveys and geo-mapping, took place in the spring and summer of 2021. The initial plan based on the data collected on a landscape architecture solution was prepared at the end of the same year. The service design process began in early 2022. 


Level of participation
  • No participation (stakeholders/citizens were not included) 
  • Informing (informing citizens about what is planned) 
  • Consultation (offering options and listening to the feedback) 
  • Co-production in some of the aspects 
  • Co-production from start to end 
Urban planning challenge(s) tackled Governance and institutional factors

  • Working collaboratively
  • Standards and regulatory processes
  • Finance

Stakeholder engagement 

  • Public acceptance
  • Shared decision-making 
  • Social inclusion

Knowledge and skills

  • Awareness and communication
  • Expertise
  • Technical integration

Lessons learned

● It is a long process to identify the interests and needs of all parties and place them within the limits of available resources (financial, spatial and organisational).

● The choice of location is crucial when creating a public garden in an urban space.

● Contact the experts in the municipality and find out what is underground.

● Although initially all the requirements seemed to have been met, in that the area appeared large enough and unused, easily accessible, close to local people and with a small community garden already in operation, later geodesy revealed that underground communications placed great constraints on future plans for the garden. The restricted zones eventually shaped much of the landscape design and the usable area was smaller than expected.

● There can be no garden without water. It is important to ensure that there is a natural water body nearby or that a water connection can be easily established. In addition, a geo-survey of the water pipeline is essential.

● As the initial vision emerges, mapping of target groups and stakeholders must begin immediately to co-create the concept with them. In Pelguaia, it became obvious during the creation of the landscape architecture solution that future management of the area might be difficult, and it was unclear who would take this on.

● Stakeholder involvement is important but when difficult situations arise and the process drags on, people can experience “involvement fatigue”. It is especially important to keep in mind that community leaders do their NGO work in addition to their working life, and that their time is therefore limited.

● Stakeholder co-creation creates benefits for urban planners, such as access to the unique knowledge, but also raises new challenges because of the diverse characteristics, interests and goals of the different stakeholders involved.


The two major results of the project thus far are:
● As a result of the entire process, a landscape architecture solution for a new public garden has been created based on a universal design that takes account of the wishes of all stakeholders as well as the existing situation and current opportunities.
● A comprehensive and well-thought-out service design process has been created based on the example of Pelguaia. A final report will be published based on the entire process. The process model comprises:
● A description of the stages of the process;
● An assigned sequence of steps;
● Mapped components of the service and the necessary resources;
● A description of the roles of the participants in the process;
● The customer path created for the service user.

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