Fertile city: food gardens for all generations
by Toby Jones, Solidariteitsnetwerk Buurttuinen
Food history, chicken manure, local wealth, foodcoop and neighborhood kitchen: what’s happening in community foodscapes? This is the second article on a series that shares the courageous dreams (and practices!) of neighborhood food gardens to breathe new life into community foodscapes in and around Amsterdam.
The dreams are harvested from 16 community evaluations that happened with 16 different gardens. And one group of community food gardeners is already realizing some of their dreams. A read on raising awareness and recognizing the invaluable and invisible that community food growers and sharers do. May you be inspired by their great practices and make more dream relationships of solidarity and reciprocity.
Many of the community food gardens (buurttuinen) are dreaming of intergenerational gardening. They dream of children having their own space to play and grow their own food. They are dreaming of collaborating with schools and parents to provide inspiring educational programs. They dream of sharing their knowledge and co-design regenerative landscapes together. They also dream to cooperate with the municipality to share resources and be valued for their contributions to neighborhood health and wellbeing.
Dreams made real
In Stadsboerderij Osdorp, Nieuw-West, food gardeners are flourishing in collaboration with other groups:
- In partnership with Esther Boukema from De Smaak te Pakken and Lukasschool the garden has become part of the school curriculum. Children learn about global food histories and cultures. They also grow their own vegetables in the ‘kindertuin’ with which they make meals and invite their parents and guardians.
- Some of the gardeners belong to the Cityplot collective of urban food growers, educators and permaculture designers. The garden hosts the annual course Get Down Get Dirty that covers the fundamentals of urban permaculture and sustainable organic growing as the seasons unfolds. Stadsboerderij shows it’s possible to professionalize and be financially supported.
- The community food growers have also been instrumental in establishing the FoodCoop Osdorp, the first food cooperative in Nieuw-West. Each week neighbors work together to access affordable and organic food. Local farmers and fisher people are supported by purchasing fresh and delicious produce collectively.
- Last year the gardeners sprouted a very popular ‘buurtkeuken’ (neighborhood kitchen) at Stadsboerderij Osdorp. Each week wholesome meals are made with vegetables and herbs from the garden as well as lost food (food waste). The meal costs € 5 and is worth every cent.
- Not only are the gardeners building community wealth and regenerating local economies they are also free from buying imported soil. They transform green waste cuttings from the Gemeente and manure from the chickens into fertile compost.
- The garden’s contributions to edible greening is recognized by the Gemeente as the ‘Groenpunt’ for Osdorp with a weekly consultation hour for to all neighbors, Wednesday 4-5pm. Stadsboerderij Osdorp has become a hub to connect gardens in the neighborhood, to share skills and resolve challenges cooperatively.
- The garden has found the dream balance between welcoming the talents and initiative of newcomers while honouring long-term experience and local wisdoms. Old and new gardeners deepen their friendship and trust as they share decisions and co-design parts of the garden together each year.
Ten common challenges
Cities for Change is supporting the emergence of a solidariteitsnetwerk buurttuinen in Amsterdam by asking the seeders of the P2P solidarity network to document and share their bottom-up participation process.
Read this how to guide to get insights and ideas in how to join, nourish or seed your own solidarity networks. Learn from the network by this report that shares the 10 most common challenges faced by community food growers and also the solutions they are working.
These documents were presented during the event on May 3rd Share your skills: building a solidarity network for community gardens. And here you can read the first blog of Fertile City.