Pilot Project

How to feed a growing population in an increasingly urbanized world of limited resources? This question was one topic discussed in a Young Organics (YO) world café session at BioFach fair 2011. One working group debated concepts of Urban Farming which became the foundation of a first project initiated and conducted by YO. Putting into practice what we discussed in theory we began in our own immediate environment to prove that we can produce our own food, and we set out to get our hands dirty.

In April we realized three projects initiated during our first YO workshop in Bonn (Germany). We set up two small vegetable patches of 1×1 meter in the backyard of the Fairtrade International head office where some of the group members work. The idea was to show how little space is needed to grow vegetables on a small scale in an urban area. We set up another 1×1 meter vegetable patch as well as a larger round vegetable patch of about 10 square meters in the garden of a private house in the Bonn residential area. Different kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, leek, eggplant and herbs such as parsley, rosemary and basil are growing now in the middle of the city.

Increasingly interested in learning more about organic agricultural practices, and encour-aged by the delicious vegetables we could harvest every day just outside our office build-ing and in the garden, we wanted to try gardening on a larger scale. We found a 450 square meter plot of fallow land on a bio-dynamic farm close to the Bonn city centre and in May we started to turn the plot into a community garden and grow our own organic vegetables.

We faced some challenges such as an almost 2 months dry period without rain, rabbits and slugs who attacked our seedlings, invading weeds and thistles and a pest of bugs destroying a whole row of tomato plants. On weekend-ends and evenings we gathered at the plot with friends and colleagues, exchanging tips and practices from our respective home countries, sweating and burning under the sun, sinking into the mud with our gum boots after the heavy summer rains, getting blisters and sore muscles, chasing slugs, talking and laughing over hours of weeding and enjoying fresh carrots or zucchini bread made from the first ripe vegetables. Since a few weeks most vegetables are ready to be har-vested and we are enjoying big meals of fennel, celery, zucchini, purple and regular car-rots, lettuce, kale, onions and beans from our very own organic garden.

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