Reaping what we sow

Bees are humming and butterflies are flying between the green sea of leaves, vegetables and flowers. It is hard to believe we are in one of Europe’s densest cities – in Barcelona.

Hort de la Font Trobada – view from above © Sigrid Ehrmann

Only 18 months ago this thriving community garden Hort de la Font Trobada was abandoned wasteland. Now 90 families and 11 entities cultivate their plots with an estimated 200 people sharing and enjoying the gardens. ‘Do you want some tomatoes? We have seedlings from Galicia!’ someone shouts while filling the watering can at the Font Trobada, one of the local fountains which gives the garden its name.

Nestled between the suburb of Poble Sec and Montjuïc mountain, the area with its natural fountains was used as agricultural land since the 15th century, and later became a popular spot for weekend excursions. Much of the 20th century the mountain was covered by barracas – informal settlements – until major development set in for the Olympic games. The gardens and fountains disappeared until the city council granted a petition for a self-managed community garden and recovered the Font Trobada before handing the land to the community association.

The agricultural practices in the community garden are strictly ecologic and based on the Parades en Crestall method from Mallorca, an efficient method to cultivate small plots of land in hot climate areas in which constant moisture is achieved through a thin layer of humus topsoil and foliage density.

Next to food production and ecology, the community garden has a strong social and pedagogical focus. Members of La Rimaieta and El Petit Molinet, two self-organised family childcare centers active in the garden, explain how important it is for children and adults to get their hands dirty, connect with the community through collaboration, share food and experiences, create knowledge and learn about the growing process. This is how through collective effort, a green oasis has emerged to escape the city life and be amongst butterflies and bees.