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Sow and see the sprouted seedlings, discover the slowness of the snails and be amazed when the potatoes come out of the ground, those planted some time before, then commit to rummaging in the earth to recover them all. Alongside experiments in biodynamic gardens, use of composters, and then parties with the participation of the entire neighborhood. It is not a fairy tale, it is what it is Anna Maria Baiocco with many friends of Legambiente and not, he created in Rome, at Garbatella, where the crisis is making itself felt but we do not give up on sowing, growing vegetables and hopes. All together passionately.
1) Orti Urbani in Rome, what is it about?
The "Garbatella Urban Gardens" project is part of the over ten-year commitment of Circolo Garbatella of Legambiente to create a public park in an area of 45,000 square meters destined for greenery by the Municipality of Rome since 1996 and was born in 2009 from the meeting of numerous local associations that constitute a Garbatella Urban Gardens Coordination. The objectives of the 2,000 square meters of area now destined for vegetable gardens are: to protect green areas from building speculation, to produce income support, to develop models of self-production, self-consumption and self-organization on needs, to develop moments of sociality and encounter, recovery of a peasant culture that can also involve the neighborhood and schools. In this way, we are able to provide income support, helping to get many elderly people out of isolation, also reducing the distance between generations that cohabit and often ignore each other.
2) How many participate today? Citizens? What types? Are there any associations?
Currently there are 25 gardens for an area of 40 square meters each and 5 gardens are assigned to associations. As for the participants, it is difficult to establish a number, for the educational gardens we speak of 100 but around these gardens there are 70/80 children and their teachers and volunteers from Legambiente and Casetta Rossa. Then there are about 10/15 people dedicated to the garden in rotation for the ASINITAS and CEMEA associations, including immigrants and assistants and another 10/15 people including disabled people, parents and assistants for the garden assigned to Hàgape 2000. The remaining land is been assigned to individual citizens, maximum 3 per garden. As can be seen, the type of assignees is very varied: unemployed, integrated funds, pensioners, students, young people, the elderly. The assignees are joined by families with their various members or friends. It is therefore simplistic to count the participants in the project in this way, because around the gardens there is the interest and attendance of the inhabitants of the neighborhood and not, of journalists, photographers.
3) Can we talk about the social value of the garden?
It is one of the constituent purposes of the Garbatella Urban Gardens and since the assignment of the first 15 gardens in the spring of 2010 a sort of "spontaneous sociality" has been created among the gardeners, also linked to the common needs for the management of each vegetable garden, common, composters that stimulate meeting, knowledge, cultural exchanges. The gardens host meetings, snacks, dinners, barbecues and, if necessary, self-financing dinners are organized for common expenses with the active involvement of the "gardeners". There was no lack of theoretical-practical courses in permaculture, self-production of natural soaps, theoretical-practical games with children. These are all moments of encounter that include the disabled and immigrants, and in addition to the events such as tree festivals, Let's Clean the World, spring festivals and many other occasions.
Volunteers for the "Clean the World" initiative
4) What was the public and private contribution?
The public contribution? The signing of the agreement for the formal management of the entire area, presented to the Municipality of Rome last summer 2011, is continually postponed. As for the Province, we took advantage of a loan that allowed us to install caissons for irrigating the gardens. Other funding came from the Maxxi of Rome who gave us fertile land for 10 new gardens and for the orchard and from Tecnogarden Service srl of Vimercate (MI) who gave us a compost truck from their plant a few kilometers from us. . Of course, the main help comes from the territory, from individuals who offer their skills and availability.
5) Can vegetable gardens save the territory from unbridled land consumption?
Sure. With the presence of citizens who appreciate its usefulness. And also through information: newspaper articles, magazines, radio, TV, photo shoots, publications, university studies, the internet.
6) Are there similar projects elsewhere?
The Zappata association has put all the experiences of shared gardens in Rome online. Just click on www.zappataromana.net/ and you will find all the useful references. Anyone wishing to join can contact Luca D’Eusebio.
Zen alla Garbatella
7) We conclude with a beautiful fairy tale from Garbatella
I go to flash. I can't think of a real story.
The third grade children who come to plant see the sprouted seedlings after sowing and are attracted to the discovery of snails, with unimaginable delicacy and attention. The amazement of the children when the potatoes come out of the ground and the commitment to rummage through the earth to retrieve them all.
The experiments of biodynamic gardens, the use of composters, errors and corrections, the most disparate interventions to protect the seeds from the voracity of birds: scarecrows, pinwheels, nets, colored flags, a paper rooster with a tail that turns.
And then the holidays, the best moments, when everyone brings food from home to taste. The use of plastic plates, cutlery and glasses is prohibited. Each brings them from home. We only offer bruschetta and water from the fountain, sometimes wine. Of course, before eating everyone works for the arrangement of common things: from cleaning, to the arrangement of the hedge, to the planting of new trees in the park. Outdoor games for children and adults. And then songs, dances, information and confidences.
We recommend that you also read our article: Permaculture: where and how to practice it.
Interview byMarta Abbà