Grădinescu urban gardens, Romania

The urban garden network started with a garden that was created around a supermarket in Bucharest. With financial support and the experience of those involved in Romanian permaculture and Transition movements, similiar gardens were created all around the country. And while the supermarket funding has ended some of the community gardens are now being supported by their local municipalities. Here we talk to Adina M Moise, a pioneering seed saver, who was involved in the gardens from the beginning.

Who was/is involved?

The supermarket chain Kaufland sent an email to Romania in Transition. It was picked up by Yonut Badika, who in 2012 had created the first schoolyard permaculture garden in Bucharest. I knew Yonut from Romania in Transition. Then Alex Tudose from the Permaculture Institute was invited to be part of the team. There were lots of other dedicated and enthusiastic people. Sometimes we were planting at 11pm with lightbulbs!

What motivated you?

We were all doing what we loved to do!

What inspired you?

All the gardens had permaculture design elements.

What obstacles did you face?

The big challenge was not to be only dreamers. We were initiators, we did good things but we weren’t financially sustainable. The new approach was to work with a company like Kaufland, to learn to work with them.

Who supported you? And how?

Kaufland supported us financially and also with land. It was like we were professionalised nature-lovers! At most ten people were paid. Two-thirds were part time and the rest full time. We had some day workers when needed and a lot of volunteers from the community around. Previously we had had ERASMUS but this was like go fund your dream! It was very nurturing.

What have you achieved?

At the end of 2018 Kaufland launched a funding programme with the Permaculture Institute as coordinator. It aimed to fund another 10 gardens in the country. 45 organisations applied, from universities to high schools and NGOs. To apply they had to have written approval from their municipality. So the concept of community urban gardens was suddenly very viral all over the country. 10 applications were successful, and 10 more were built around the country. Now there are 21. One of them is on a terrain in the old citadel on the top of the walls of Alba Carolina, supported by the local municipality. The garden is flourishing and a lot of schools are interested in having events there.

How has COVID-19 affected you?

The crisis has helped the garden to be more wanted. More people have asked to be part of the community gardens. To play there and stay there with the children. We have many, many requests to grow in them too.

What’s the number one thing that you have learned from your initiative/project?

If you want to change the world, make a garden, allow yourself to dream and walk the talk.

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