What motivates us to grow our own fruits and vegetables? The effort as such of course. The prospect of a harvest, no matter how modest. A green and at the same time colorful garden. Foods without poison. Improvement of the environment. The fact that the exercise it takes to grow your own fruits and vegetables, in combination with the outdoor work, keep you fit. Of course, the examples of others also motivate particularly well, because there is no motivation without inspiration.
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No motivation without inspiration
The green touch of our environment helps a lot. We live next to a nature park. Moreover, there are a lot of huertas (orchards) and campos vegetal (vegetable fields) here.
Botanic and urban agricultural gardens are also inspiring sources. A friend runs an organic fruits and vegetables shop over here and cultivates a lot of his produce on his own lands. Recently we visited a group of young people that revive a huge tract of disused agricultural land.
In this blog I present some of these examples. The aim is to inspire you to also grow your own fruits and vegetables.
City nurseries, like city parks and graveyards and the trees on the sidewalks, are all maintained by local governments. They add the oh so necessary green touch to the modern cities that are dominated by stinky cans on wheels and horrendous concrete buildings. The challenge for us is to add to this green touch, and profit at the same time ourselves, by growing our own fruits and vegetables.
Urban agricultural gardens
In my blog ‘Food, from menace to savior’ I suggest to grow your own fruits and vegetables with your neighbors. An example is one here in Puerto de Mazarrón (see picture). In 2008 the entire city of Todmorden in the UK turned into an agricultural garden with the Incredible Edible Todmorden project.
Urban agricultural gardens create:
- Better physical and social quality in the neighborhood;
- Opportunities for unskilled workers, alternative care, nursery and recreation;
- Jobs for unskilled workers;
- And provide more production options for farmers.
Another example of an urban agricultural garden is the Prinzessinnengärten in Berlin (Germany). There they integrate welfare, urban planning and environmental politics.
When you’re blessed with a house with a garden, like us, you sometimes forget that people also live in apartment buildings (such as the apartments surrounding the Prinzessinnengärten). Although some people are very creative, there is hardly any room for a green touch. For people who live in apartment blocks, urban agricultural gardens are a marvelous green opportunity.
Inspiring Spanish village gardens
On a regular basis we travel through the beautiful Spanish countryside. Once out of the tourist routes we find the most beautiful, small, characteristic and idyllic villages.
Most villages have a church, a plaza mayor with a bar or a restaurant, a convent of some sort and a small village garden. These gardens are always well kept and the fruits and vegetables are always abundant and look great. With the exception of the siësta hours, we often see an old man hoeing between the plants.
Someday soon, when our Spanish is adequate enough, we will try to tap into their undoubtedly vast agricultural knowledge.
Other inspiring examples are botanic gardens. When we travel we make an effort to visit as much botanic gardens as we can during holidays. This is a feat that I think is inspired by our frequent visits to Insel Hombroich in Germany. Although our first visit to the big California nature parks in 1991 might also have contributed substantially.
There are beautiful botanic gardens in Holland, such as the big glass hortus in the middle of Amsterdam and the open air hortus in Leiden. In the village were we used to live there was also a small, and very well kept hortus.
Here in Spain the most beautiful botanic garden we visited is the one in Valencia. Although the botanic gardens in Cordoba and Malaga are also impressive. In general many major cities with a university have botanic gardens.
But there are also more secluded ones. In the Comunidad Autónoma de Andalucia there are 12 secluded botanical gardens. One of them is the Jardín Botánico Umbría de la Virgen near the small Village which is accordingly called Maria on the A317. This botanic garden is one of Spain’s most important ones because it harbors a vast collection of the Quercus Ilex (evergreen oak, holly oak or holm oak).
Most botanic gardens here in Spain are equipped with an agricultural garden. However, they probably are not meant to be seen by the visitors because there are never signs explaining the plants. With the exception of the botanic garden in Cordoba.
We grow our own fruits and vegetables
Our efforts to grow our own fruits and vegetables are modest. At the moment we have a few square meters for strawberries, tomato’s, and zucchini. We also have three lemon trees, and an olive and a fig tree that all have difficulty to grow up. In several pots we grow mint (two different types) for tea. You just clip of a twig of some 10 centimeters, put the twig in a tea cup and pour some hot water on it. Delicious.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables: a global movement
I was very surprised to learn that the urban gardens movement in the USA met with such heavy opposition by conservative politicians. In the mid ’90s, in New York, former mayor Rudy Giuliani planned to bulldoze dozens of urban agricultural gardens.
Fortunately this had a counterproductive effect. The citizen’s consciousness was raised and turned urban gardening into a movement. Urban gardens prove to fulfill an economic function because they provide cheap, fresh food that many people can’t afford. These gardens are also places of gathering, cooperation, and act as reciprocal education centers for people of different ages and cultures.
Join the Global Urban Gardening Movement
No matter how modest our efforts, we’re very proud that so far we succeeded in rearing at least some fruits and vegetables. We are dedicated to participate with so many other people in the Global Urban Gardening Movement.
If you’re also proud of your kitchen garden or if you participate in an urban agricultural garden project, or you know any urban agricultural initiatives or botanic gardens you like, please send us your pictures and stories, and, if available, a cross-reference on the Internet. We’ll be very grateful and will share the results.