Community Gardens: You can also BenefEat from them!
The magic seven
The Hungarian village of Hét, which in English translates to ‘seven’, boasts with only 500 inhabitants, but they grow all of this.
The locally based Sajtóvölgye Tájszépítő Egyesület runs a project named Heted-HÉT-Határ, the main profile of which is the operation of a community garden. Besides its main priority to bring the community together, the project also aims to popularise those vegetables that are lesser known in the country, exactly like the above mentioned ones.
The initiative was born in 2013 when the project received funding from the local government. Slowly, but steadily, the volunteers has also been found, most of whom are children at the moment.
“We live in a village, here a lot of people grow their own things, but there could be even more of them! In our region, there are a lot of poor people, who are in need of being able to produce their own food. One of our goals was to involve them too. We have kind of managed to achieve this: in the end we mostly managed to involve children” – says Andrea Freeman, the project manager.
Anybody is welcome to help with the garden. In order to motivate the children, smaller pieces of land have been assigned to them, which are now their own responsibility – besides this, everybody gets involved in working on the common areas as much as their time permits.
What shall we cook?
All the volunteers are welcome to take home from the vegetables, but during the summer, common cooking sessions are organised, during which the members of the community cook and eat the food that they grew together.
In order to inspire the consumption of the products that are less known, the members of the association have compiled a cookery book so that the local people can make friends with the new products more quickly. What we are talking about here are rather undemanding plants that can be grown by anybody cheeply and easily in their own gardens – after acquiring the basics steps in the community garden.
The project was subsidized by the Norwegian Grant and according to this, it was introduced at the Norvégminta Festival at the end of June in Budapest, along with other projects supported by the Grant.
All the vegetables count
Let’s get acquainted with a similar project from another region, still from amongst the participants of the festival. The Every Vegetable Counts – Edible Community Gardens project embraces 3 villages of the Békés county.
Kids from schools and kindergartens take care of the gardens in Békéscsaba, Gyula and Békés. Even if they are well-known places, there are a lot of gardens that are not in use in this county. This is what the project is aiming to change. In the practise school community gardens, the children can learn how to treat plants within the frames of their school classes and at home, they can boast with their achievements – this is the way the organisers try to reach out to the parents as well. During Science and Biology classes, the teachers take their classes to the gardens, but a lot of kids devote some of their free time to being active in the gardens as well.
Hundreds of children have already taken part in the programme that has been running since 2014, where they gain experience through growing seasonal vegetables. According to the Közös Pont Association, the programme is having a growing influence and after involving the children in a playful way, more and more parents are starting to contribute to the gardens as well.
Written by Kamilla Drubina
Translated by Judit Molnár