City: Utrecht, the Netherlands
The Food Bank Garden was set up specifically to supply fresh produce for the Food Bank in Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Photos courtesy of De Voedselbanktuin
Holding Organisation: ATV De Hoge Weide – “De Voesselbanktuin” Status: In progress Financing: ATV De Hoge Weide People involved in the project: 14 Public Partners: Voedselbank Pluspunten Utrecht, Stichting Tussenvoorziening. Private Partners: None Creation Date: April 2010 Sources & Links: www.atvdehogeweide.nl Contact Persons: Peter van BURIK
The Food Bank Garden was set up specifically to supply fresh produce for the Food Bank. All vegetables grown in this garden are donated to the Food Bank, and before each pre-arranged pickup, society members can donate excess produce as well. Last year for example, we donated 50 crates of different types of vegetables.
The following vegetables are grown: leeks, potatoes, lettuce, courgettes, onions, beetroot, carrots, cabbages, garlic, strawberries and rhubarb.
The local context
In Utrecht, a lot of families do not have enough resources to provide for themselves in terms of daily fresh food. The Food Bank is therefore helping these people by supplying food on a weekly basis.
The starting point
The 250m2 Food Bank Garden is part of the gardening complex Groenewoud in Utrecht. The setup and layout of the gardening area is unique: combining office buildings and a public park is not often seen, and our park serves as an example of how to integrate and increase green sites in urban areas. The park was designed and built by local government and we rent it from them.
The park has a number of themed gardens, namely the:
- Bird garden
- Butterfly garden
- Sheep garden
- Compost garden
- Food bank garden
The idea for the Food Bank Garden was presented and introduced at the end of 2009 to the committee of the garden association ATV De Hoge Weide. They approved the creation of this garden and provided us with some start up funds. The actual sowing and planting of vegetables started in April 2010. During the gardening season, every fortnight a group of garden members is working in the Food Bank Garden.
How does it work?
Production of vegetables is important. In order to supply enough produce we need to sow and harvest on a regular basis. Not only do the garden members provide assistance every fortnight, they also help with the harvesting every Monday evening. Goods are collected for distribution every Tuesday during the gardening season.
Participation and Governance
Local garden members are involved and helping out in the Food Bank Garden. One of them is the coordinator and contact person of the Food Bank Utrecht. The complete harvest is collected by the Food Bank Utrecht, part of the organisation "Pluspunten De Tussenvoorziening", who then distribute the vegetables to their customers.
Added value of the project
- The project is helping the Food Bank, which distributes vegetables to the residents of the city of Utrecht unable to buy fresh food daily. Garden members who are helping in the Food Bank Garden are also residents of Utrecht.
- Members of the Food Bank Garden are committed to the project and are very proud to be helping those less fortunate in Utrecht.
- As another resource, we make use of a clay garden of 250 m2 surrounded by a hedge. Every year in March we will use mushroom compost in order to improve the soil. We also compost other garden waste ourselves. We make no use of chemicals, which means that all the food is grown organically.
The main risk is the weather. Either it is too warm, cold or too wet. Not planting or sowing the vegetables under the right conditions can influence the continuity of the production. Another risk are animals like pigeons, pheasants and mice. They may eat the crops before they can be harvested. Fortunately, we do not have societal challenges.
In order to tackle the weather conditions a glass house would be a good solution. Futhermore, a fruitcage could be used in order to keep out troublesome animals.
Proposals for change
Due to the nature of this project, no major challenges or risks for realisation of future projects can be suggested.