Community vegetable gardens
Our mission is “to drape a living green carpet over Barcelona, made of vegetables, flowers, grasses and shrubs, so that from the sky, the roofs are not concrete but a huge park, divided into blocks, which have their own personalities”
Thus began our concept “Huertos en el Cielo” (Heavenly Gardens); a pioneer project that is a first step to help bring Barcelona closer to consuming home grown, healthy and organic vegetables produced on it’s roofs.
The benefits are numerous:
- Lower energy costs during winter and summer (the building is kept warm in winter and shaded in the hot summers).
- Social benefits in sharing and / or collaborating in a green space with the neighbours.
- Lower costs in the medium term of fresh vegetables for residents.
- Better health due to better quality vegetables.
- Environmental benefits including improved air quality.
Barcelona is now “actively” promoting the use of rooftops and terraces for gardens with a series of grants that theoretically will be a giant step forward to realising the futuristic scene of a true “green” city. More details can be read about the initiative in this article in La Vanguardia and also here.
When we read about this, we clearly became as excited as perhaps you did, or are getting now. This is going to be great; grants to improve the air quality, the urban environment and therefore the general health of the city’s residents. Take Glories as an example of this planning, a real effort to green the city, a step in the right direction (though also note, per capita, Barcelona has very few trees when compared with other european cities).
However, after a little digging and the usual complications in trying to find the right person to speak with, we were told (in September) the following requirements to access the grants:
1) To obtain the grant for the rooftop of your community, each household within the building would need to contribute 750 euros of their own money towards the project.
2) It would be necessary to obtain an energy certificate for the building, an accessibility report and a technical report on the state of health of the building (an ITE). This was estimated by the person we spoke with as around two to three thousand euros.
3) And finally, the community would need to have a ten year contract with a company, like Huertocity, for the upkeep of the garden installed.
The gentlemen also mentioned that although they had received some interest, at the date, some 4 or 5 months after the initial announcement, as yet no one had submitted an application.
Our general feeling at Huertocity is that the initiative has great potential, but the costs involved are still prohibitive as well as being greatly over the going market rate, assuming no structural work is required (a rooftop should be able to hold at least 200 kg /m2, ample for raised beds and planters).
Clearly, this kind of project, in its current format, won’t be attractive too many communities. But nevertheless, in the knowledge that we can carry out this kind of project far cheaper than the minimum requirements of the council, we are confident we will continue, step by step, in draping our living carpet over the city.
Benefits of a vegetable garden
There are many reasons for you to have a vegetable garden…