The Easter weekend is on its last day and finally the green buds, swelling on every tree and bush, have started to burst into leaves. For those of us who dream about a garden full of vegetables and other edible stuff, this is the time to get busy.
There can’t really be more locally produced food that the things growing outside your own window, and growing your own veggies has become a bit of a trend – recently even Sweden’s Minister for Finance Anders Borg talked about how satisfied he is to be almost self-supporting on vegetables from his own garden during the summer season.
I live in a flat, but not having my own garden hasn’t stopped me. The last few years, with a rising awareness about sustainability and food production, more and more people have started to grow food between block of flats in Sweden’s cities. Where I live, we are a few neighbours growing things like rhubarb, squash, carrots, lettuce and garlic between the houses. Cultivating the earth together doesn’t only make it easier to get through the summer months, when many go away for holidays just when the plants are in desperate need of water and care – it’s also much more fun than doing it alone.
Others who share this belief and who have taken the idea of collective food production to a higher level, is Folkodlingen (“the people’s cultivation”) in Skarpnäck. Skarpnäck is one of Stockholm’s suburbs,
and here a group of people have started producing vegetables and fruit both at an allotment and in a “garden park”, a place that will both be a nice place to hang out in and at the same time produce edible plants. Within this group there are some trained gardeners, but it’s open for everyone who wants to join and learn.
Recently I went to the Multicultural centre in Botkyrka here in Stockholm. It’s a cultural centre arranging a lot of interesting exhibitions and seminars. This time the name of the exhibition is Tillsammans (Together), looking at the problems humanity is facing, as climate change, food production, and human rights violations, and investigating how we could solve these problems together instead of confronting them alone.
One section spotlights the Skarpnäck community garden, and in one of the texts a woman called Lena explains why she joined the group.
– I thought it was a brilliant idea, since I think we need to grow food in every backyard and green space in the city. Oil and transport prices get higher and higher. We have to shift into more local production, importing tomatoes from Italy is just insane. And growing food together with others is just so much better than doing it alone.
The garden park fruits and berries will be available for anyone who wants to eat them and now the group is negotiating with the local public administration to get access to more unused public land.