A way to a greener city

A way to a greener city

Initiatives promoting urban vegetable gardens have existed in the past in Greece, with some municipal authorities setting aside a few parcels of land for people who want to grow their own tomatoes, lettuces and other produce.

A few days ago, however, the management agency of the capital’s Antonis Tritsis Park announced an ambitious new project – possibly the largest of its kind in Greece – that will not only benefit low-income residents in the vicinity, but will also come as a breath of fresh air for the park itself. Part of the park’s 120-hectare expanse will be loaned out to families so they can maintain their own vegetable patch. Run in cooperation with the Athens Agricultural University, the scheme foresees 10 hectares being planted.

The university’s role is advisory, with its professors and students being on hand to give tips about what plants will grow best in this particular microclimate.

The first time I saw such urban gardens was several years ago, in Germany and the Netherlands. My initial reaction was, of course, surprise. These two countries, like many others in Europe, had understood the benefits of urban farming decades ago. It is a practice that helps ease the burden on poor households, strengthens urbanites’ bond with nature, creates pockets of greenery, bolsters creativity and cooperation, and, in some cases, holds further urbanization at bay.

If the experiment at Tritsis Park succeeds, it may serve as a springboard for more initiatives of this kind. There are plenty of unbuilt expanses all over the capital that could be put to good use – and in many respects, it would be a win for all of us.

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