Even though Uppsala is still covered by a mantle of snow, sunny days are coming! What is a better way to enjoy outdoor time – the singing of the birds, the fresh wind, and the warmth of the sun – than by gardening?
In face of the socio-ecological damages caused by monocultures and mainstream industrialised agriculture, alternatives exist. Urban and community gardening offers this alternative by growing local and seasonal food, promoting local food chains, improving soil quality, and respecting biodiversity. No need to be an expert gardener: whatever one’s motivation is – making new friends, enjoying the outdoors, peace of mind, or working out without paying for a gym – Uppsala offers great opportunities for anyone to start the experience! Many community gardens and initiatives exist. To mention a few of them: The Campus Garden, newly started and located near the university campus Geocentrum, Flogsta Food situated in the student residential area Flogsta, and Ultuna Permakultur at the southern outskirts of Uppsala at the Ultuna campus. Community gardens in Uppsala very often follow principles of permaculture, an agricultural system inspired by nature. Permaculture is a harmonious integration of landscape and people for sustainable agriculture practices. It favours organic agriculture, poly-culture, biodiversity and considers energy and water saving practices.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”Audrey Hepburn
Joining a community garden offers a space of togetherness and liveliness. It is a place where one can meet like-minded people, be part of a local community where one can discuss and philosophise with gardening fellows. Community gardens are places for knowledge sharing: knowledge on how to grow vegetables, how to use compost, on sustainable practices such as permaculture, on native plants, on the local environment and ecosystems.
Local gardening is also related to the questions of food waste, as it has been discussed during our panel discussion on Uppsala Perspectives on Food Waste last November. First, not utilising the available spaces in urban environments for producing the local needs in vegetables is considered a waste. That is the observation that led Ultuna Permakultur to bring nature into the city and cultivate local fruits and vegetables in harmony with nature and the ecosystems. Also, local gardening can overcome waste that happens in the mainstream long production chain (production, processing, transporting, and storing the food). The waste reduction is not only related to the food itself (when in contrast to the supermarkets’ standards, weird-looking vegetables are all used in a garden). It also eliminates pollution and emissions caused by transportation and shipping. A shared vision of the panel discussion is that we are disconnected from where the food comes from and how our food is produced. Growing a garden is a start to rebuilding our relationship with the soil, with the natural world, with food, and with oneself. Building these new relationships from the bottom-up can be done by growing one’s own food, and awakening the senses: touch, smell, taste, sight… When connecting with nature and the soil, and learning about food production, one realises the true value of food and the hard work behind each meal. And what a satisfaction when feasting on what we grow!
Written by Miène Spykerelle
If you want to (re)watch the panel discussion “Uppsala Perspectives on Food Waste”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpu_oG0KeQw
Reach some of the gardening initiatives in Uppsala:
Ultuna Permakultur: https://www.ultunapermakultur.com/
Flogsta Food : https://www.facebook.com/FlogstaFood
The Campus Garden : https://www.facebook.com/UUCampusGarden
Holmgren, D (2002) Permaculture : principles & pathways beyond sustainability. Hepburn, Victoria : Holmgren Design Services
Leahy, T. (2019). “Permaculture”. In: Kothari, A., Salleh, A., Escobar, A., Demaria, F., and Acosta, A., eds. 2019. Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary. New Delhi: Tulika Books, pp.274-277.