What are they?
The network of urban gardens in Barcelona is a participation programme of the Department of Environment which is addressed to citizens over 65 years old. It is aimed at incorporating them into environmental improvement activities through vegetable growing by following the principles of organic farming. This programme began in 1997 with the launch of Can Mestres gardens, although the first garden which started to work in Barcelona was the Hort de l'Avi one in the Gracia district in 1986 as a result of a request from a group of neighbors.
Urban Gardens have important social values for people involved since they allow them to spend their time. Besides, they favor the creation of a network of new relationships and improve their quality of life through physical activity, which is very positive for their health. They also have a high environmental value to the city, since they become new public spaces.
Other highlights are their role in environmental education through activities aimed at schools, which allow children to know the agricultural world and the principles of organic farming. They also have a social function regarding coexistence between generations, since educational activities in urban gardens promote relationships between children and the elderly.
The programme of urban gardens in Barcelona is carried out along with districts and with the collaboration of "la Caixa Banking Foundation.
They are small plots between 25 to 40m2, in which vegetables, herbs and seasonal flowers are grown. There are many tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, zucchinis, chards, cabbages, eggplants, garlics, onions, artichokes and lettuces.
Plots are decorated with plantations of species with seasonal blooms, and herbs and aromatic plants have an important role in organic farming since they contribute to eliminate pests by repelling or attracting parasitic insects. This is the case of rosemary, which attracts aphids, avoids them to go to the vegetables and attracts pollinating insects.
This programme is aimed at people over 65 who are registered in the district where the garden is located. They must be physically prepared for agricultural work and, at the request of a urban garden, they can’t live with someone who is awarded a plot.
Part of the programme is reserved for organisations with people at risk of social exclusion.
To access it you should have to go personally to the Office of Citizen Services (Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana), which are located in every district, and submit the following documentation within the established period:
- Application requesting to enter the tender for the concession of a plot (urban garden)
- Original ID and a photocopy
- Certificate of cohabitation (which can be obtained at the Office of Citizen Services)
Conditions and the official announcement are published on the Official Journal of Barcelona, the notice boards from every Office of Citizen Services and centers for the elderly.
Lots will be drawn to allocate plots and land is ceded for five years with an initial trial period of six months.
Once the plot is assigned, beneficiaries have to follow an organic farming model. Chemicals can’t be used neither products obtained from cultivation can be sold.