A garden in the city
Our Project consists of an urban allotment initiative
which offers lovers of gardening, vegetable gardens and all that goes with it, the possibility of having an allotment in the centre of Madrid. But that is not all, as this is also a project which fights for the full participation in our society of people with mental disabilities, as these are the people who tend and keep up these plots.
The idea behind this project first appeared in January 2010, but it wasn’t until March 2011 that we celebrated the inauguration of the Vegetable Garden of Montecarmelo with an open day.
Our initiative also promotes and offers a series of complimentary services linked to the world of horticulture such as workshops, courses, ongoing advice, a shop, automatic watering systems, plant care and a long etcetera.
It is our aim to offer and develop a supportive, multi-activity allotment club where people with disabilities could integrate socially and play an important role.
The installations which make up the Vegetable Garden of Montecarmelo were built with an eye on their aesthetics and the design of the plots. The aim is to create a pleasant cultivated space which offers the possibility of escape from the city and feeling yourself to be in the country, of discovering Nature’s rhythms, eating well and working in harmony with Nature whilst performing gratifying social work.
The Project has had great media coverage and public success from its outset. We currently have all 147 of our available plots occupied, and the waiting list does not stop growing.
Our success is due to the combination of a series of elements including the idea and evolution of urban allotments, our experience, our solvency and solidity as a foundation, and the extra-special spirit of the people who run the vegetable gardens, known as the ”personal keepers”. We should point out that, as well as institutional help from the City of Madrid and the Social Fund of Caja Madrid, we have – why not! – our lucky star guiding us on all the adventures we undertake.
Obviously our journey has not been problem-free. Without doubt, the main one has been the clearing and preparation of the land which was infertile and had been a rubbish dump. We also had to deal with pests and learn about crop drainage. Lastly, instructing the “personal keepers” in how to tend the plants had its difficulties, but little by little we have gradually progressed and overcome our problems.
We also came across difficulties in reconciling the need to offer the public extensive opening time with the timetables of our personnel, but managed to meet all needs by organizing shifts and upping the number of instructors.
Our objective for the future is to extend this model of allotments to other parts of Madrid and around Spain. We have already received various requests from town halls and companies and so have begun to systematize our procedures in order to continue to grow and to allow us to respond properly to every request.
Responsible of The Vegetable Garden of Montecarmelo