Toolkit of GOOD PRACTICES on Citizen Participation!


Grow Vejle - mobile urban gardens (Dyrk Vejle)


Country: Denmark

Context

In June 2013 a small corner with 14 urban gardens was established to test the idea.
The idea of Vejle mobile urban gardens is to give a recreational and environmentally sustainable value to the city and the local area. An initiative run by citizens (urban garden association
Grow Vejle), to the delight of visitors and members, based on a better mental and physical environment, healthy food, exercise and good neighborly relations across social and ethnic boundaries, age and experience. An urban garden consists of a euro pallet with pallet sides and soil to grow in. They are rented for a season and one can easily hire more than one at the same time.
The gardens can be grown by individuals, families, school groups, day care centers and cafés. They think of recycling whenever possible, and are working to spread the idea of sustainability. Alongside this, the community organizes public lectures and cultural events on the idea of green transformation.
The project has daily guests of many different kinds. They find that it is a small oasis in the city where they meet weekly for a common garden day and for dining.
In 2014 the mobile urban gardens in Vejle were up-scaled with a covered outdoor kitchen, a greenhouse, sensory gardens, a rainwater collection and a barbecue – among other things. The location is on a city-owned space around Spinderihallerne (Spinning Mills), which is a centre for culture, development and innovation. Spinning Mills in Vejle is one of Denmark's largest development and innovation environments where creative micro-enterprises, established companies, scientific and cultural institutions and the public meet and help create growth and business development.
The project is supported by the Ministry of the Environments Fund for Green Torchbearers and from 1st September to the end of November 2014 a part-time project manager has been appointed. The project is run by the city garden association, Grow Vejle, founded by local citizens.
The idea for the project comes originally from Green Forum, Vejle. Green Forum is a network association of citizens and organizations caring about the environment and nature. The group behind the initiative has been inspired by Grow Your City's urban kitchen gardens in Fredericia, which, however, is organized and financed in a different way.
Grow Vejle is involved in the larger funding application "Eat The City" where in 2015 the municipality  will establish a 2.1 kilometer-long green corridor of edible crops that will run from the existing urban gardens to Vejle city centre. The route would also establish mini "urban gardens" in cooperation with various housing associations. Its purpose is to increase social cohesion within the district.
The plan for 2015 is to expand the existing urban garden so that there can be crops cultivated all year round. The idea is to convert part of the unused old industrial plants to create a passively heated, CO2-neutral greenhouse, which in addition to being energy self-sufficient will serve as a demonstration model for alternative designs and solar techniques.

Measure

The idea of the project is to create sustainable green oases with new outdoor life and edible crops, and to establish a stronger social cohesion between citizens in Vejle. The central and most densely populated part of Vejle is characterized by pavement, parking lots and cars. Nature is only allowed to exist in the form of a small green square behind an apartment block. At the same time people of this area are less and less conscious about the foods they consume at their dinner table. It is fundamental to make them aware that through few and inexpensive means they can produce some of their own food, even if they live in the middle of the city. A process that will benefit both their own health and the environment.
In practical terms, daily operations could be handled by local residents, existing municipal shelters, housing associations, etc. Likewise, local primary schools / kindergartens / nurseries could hire a number of containers to work on and reap when they want. No one will stand alone in this enormous responsibility, but will grow and enjoy being part of a joint project for the benefit of all citizens.
"Grow Vejle" has a dual purpose, since both crops and people’s self-esteem grow at the same time. Growing boxes, in addition to promoting self-sufficiency in an urban environment, must also revitalize the local neighborhood in terms of rental properties around Spinderihallerne. City Garden gives "growers", as users of the project, a social environment where they can meet to carry out a common hobby - to grow their own vegetables. When growers meet naturally close friendly relations arise across age, gender, race and religion borders, and it enhances social interactions in the neighborhood.

Target Group

Grow Vejle is run as an association with a board.
Grow Vejle is a service for those who live in apartments. In the town garden it is possible to pick up fresh, healthy and inexpensive supplements to the daily diet. There is room for everyone, regardless of backgrounds. Give people the possibility of a new experience and teach them come out of their homes again. For example, people on wheelchairs can drive right up to the box and water their plants.

Methodology

The project contributes to the development of local networks and to the experience of being a part of the city's community, while creating a sense of ownership of the urban space. The joy of seeing something grow and the transformation of the city into a more natural area can unite people across social boundaries, ethnicity, age and experience.
During the season there will be joint activities such as common meals, a weekly garden day and barbecue evenings. Other activities in the city garden are something that will be developed along the way based on ideas coming from members of the association and the board.
Current proposals include reading for children, exchange days - perhaps you can also swap services - and competitions, such as to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin, the strongest chilli, or make the best mojito. Efforts are also being made to create materials to give guests of all ages information on the city garden and a sustainable environment.
Harvest, September 27th
The loveliest harvest festival with happy, festive people in beautiful surroundings has been held, and what a day! People coming from the local area and beyond met to enjoy tasty food and good music. The day was filled with activities and flower arrangements. Apples coming from beautifully decorated baskets were transformed into juice to celebrate. A beekeeper shared his great expertise with the people, and everyone found out that those insects are actually friendlier than one might think. Everyone also had the possibility to taste some of the delicious honey. Chef prepared scrumptious dishes with the high-quality mushrooms provided by professional farmers, perfectly complemented by the good bread from Bread and Co.

Stakeholders

From the Ministry of the Environment Fund for Green Torchbearers we have funds to cover a large part of establishment cost, but we still have a very tight budget.
Grow Vejle includes cooperation with the Green Forum, A Gartner Rødmose and the bakery/cafe Bread and Co., which for example have planned activities together.
Their motto is: "Grow carrots in the community". It can grow between people.
The boxes are just a framework. Their work is to inspire people who are helping to create something for very little money.

Assessment

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Impact

City Garden will involve local residents, institutions, etc. in promoting and creating a recreational and environmentally sustainable food-growing facility in their home town. Through involvement, people will develop greater ownership and responsibilities related to the part of Vejle they live in. Eat The City will contribute to the development of local social networks and providing each resident with the experience of being an important part of the urban space.
One can also sponsor the production of printed or electronic materials to allow everyone in the community to follow garden life. Besides contributing to an exciting adventure that will eventually grow in size and importance, all sponsors are of course provided with high visibility.
Among other things, they have made us visible in public events, in the city centre with the distribution of flyers and throughout the local area with coverage in the media - newspapers, radio and TV.

Step by step:
Spread the idea, get interested and be sure to be enough to do the job.
Start an association with the aim of establishing mobile urban gardens. Think Education Act into the statutes, and if you need a project employee, think about it also.
Search by foundations / pool funds and sponsors. Take into account administration and travels in the application budget
A commitment to a location. This could be on unused industrial land, communal or private areas
Organize space, including facilities like tables, benches and irrigation and an open city garden
Low fixed joint activities of the users of the gardens
Spread the knowledge of urban gardens, such as press releases, articles, flyers, leaflets, contact to interested organizations and associations
Organize lectures and events

Swot

1. Strengths (characteristics of the measure that give it an advantage over others):
Low cost when using recycled materials and volunteer workforce. Can be done almost anywhere, only a small space is needed.
2. Weaknesses (characteristics that place the measure at a disadvantage relative to others)
Needs someone to take charge and form some sort of leadership of the project. If not, it may not run successfully or with the needed guidelines.
3. Opportunities (elements that the measure could exploit to its advantage):
It is a great way to transform previously unused city spaces or run down areas.
4. Threats (elements in the environment that could cause trouble to the measure):
People have to focus on the project, and since everything is out in the open, there needs to be respect of the small gardens, so that they are not exposed to vandalism, etc.

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