Hans Dieter Temp

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Hans Dieter Temp was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Hans is converting abandoned land plots in impoverished areas on the outskirts of São Paulo, the largest city in South America (20+ million people), into vegetable gardens, and is using them as tools to change communities. Hans believes the assets of urban peripheries have gone unused. Thus, by unleashing the potential of this land and the people living there, Hans creates activities that not only generate jobs but creates community. His strategy encompasses a number of innovative tactics, such as a low-cost greenhouse and small grocery facilities to sell garden produced products. Hans’s initiatives are directed toward the goal of rendering urban agriculture, as a means of community development.

Through community vegetable gardens, Hans creates collective spaces in low-income communities by reinforcing social ties and restoring trust where it had been weakened due to poverty and violence. Once parcels of land ripe for makeshift housing, garbage dumps, or illegal activity, these abandoned plots became places that brought people together. Importantly, Hans changes how urban gardeners perception of themselves. Hans’s initiative also responds to many women’s need to find work that is both close to their homes and flexible--something the formal market rarely accommodates.

Beyond cultivating the vegetable gardens, Hans stimulates a culture of entrepreneurship among the young people. They assist in creating small grocery stores to sell the products harvested in the gardens themselves. These small ventures not only serve to foster greater economic activity in these regions, they also enable young entrepreneurs to become more self-sufficient and slowly overcome poverty. Hans is also teaching school students how to turn vacant lots into food-producing areas, along with environmental education, recycling, and food safety.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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