şehirin içinde saklı bir cennet
Komşu Bahçelerinin Faydaları
Kent Sakinlerini Organize Eder
-Komşular ve aynı mahalle içinde şehirlilerin tanışmasını ve bu sebeple mekana ve mahalleye sahiplenme ve çevreyi koruma ve bağlığı sağlar
-Farklı katmanlardan gelen bahçe sakinlerinin birbirleriyle tanışma olanağını ve bununla beraber sosyalleşmelerini, komşuluk ilişkilerinin gelişmesini sağlar
-Birlikteliğin getirdiği güvenli, ve huzurlu bir ortam sağlar.
-Bu güvenli ve huzurlu ortamda yeni semt liderleri yetiştirir
-Semt ve mahalle etrafında organize ve sosyal problemlerin çözümünde yardımcı ve lider olur
Bahçeler sayesinde komşular tanışır
Semt grupları oluşturulur
Uluslar arası arenada, komşu bahçeleri güvenliği sağladığı için semtlere çevre tarafından bahçeye destekleri verirlir.
Kültürel olanaklar sağlar:
-Pazarlarda azalan ve yok olan yerel bitkilerin yetiştirilmesini, yerel tohum bankalarınını yayılmasını sağlar
-Bahçe sakinlerinin mutfaklarına daha sağlıklı sebze ve meyve getirmesini sağlar
-Bahçe , nesiller arası fikir alış verişini sağlar
-Yaşlı ve emekli şehirlilerin boş zamanlarını, kisa mesafede ulaşabilecekleri bahçeyle ve toprakla uğraşmaları kendilerini faydalı hissetmelerine ve bahçe sayesinde sağlıklı hareket etmelerini sağlar.
-Şehirlerde doğup büyüyen gençlerin yiyeceğin nereden geldiğini, sağlıklı komşuluk ilişkilerini, doğayla tekrar tanışmasını sağlar.
-Bahçeyle uğraşmak maddi olarak ucuz bir uğraş olmasına rağmen gençelerin birbirleri ve çevreleriyle ilişkilerini kurmalarında sağlikli bir etken olur.
Komşu bahçelerinde gönüllülerin aileleri daha sağlıklı yedikleri bilinir
Yerel taze yiyeceklerin yenmesi astımı azaltır, çünkü çocuklar yerel poleni yedikleri için bağışıklık kazanırlar.
Yeşil alanlarda zaman geçirmek, stresi azalttığı için sağlığı yeniler.
Komşu bahçeleri gönüllüler tarafından dikkatli sulandığı ve bakıldığı için belediyelere genel klasik park alanlarından daha az masraf yaptırır.
Şehirde oksijeni artırır, kirlenmeyi önler
Toz olma ya da kimyasal gübre yerine, toprak katmanını yeniler.
Bulunduğu alandaki yağmur suyunu filitre eder, kirli suların nehirlere akmasını önler.
Çeversindeki evlerin değerini artırır.
Living in a healthy environment makes a huge difference in one’s psychee. It is becoming more difficult to come across garden spaces in our growing cities where one can escape the chaos of the city to enjoy reading a book sitting on a bench and exchange friendly conversations with others that are from diverse back grounds.
This past June, we went to my hometown Izmir- to start a community garden in Balcova- a valley that was once known for its fertility of its soil, ancient olive fields, thermal waters, an oasis to grow anything that you can think of. Unfortunately over the past years, this area has been overdeveloped with apartment blocks, leaving the the 200 year old olive groves trees to silently disappear one by one.
Ever since my husband and I lived in the Berkeley Ecohouse, I realized how important it is for people that live in urban spaces to have access to a small lot to be able to plant vegetables and flowers. I started gathering the evolution photographs of the gardens and witnessed the collaboration of the City of Berkeley with the gardeners. documenting the whole process, I sent these images to my mother- who took it upon herself to meet with several municipalities in Izmir.
If you have worked with municipalities in any country- you probably figured out that things don’t go as fast as you think they would normally- It took my mother Sema Altan- many days of waiting at the mayor’s lounge and refusing to leave the meeting room. I think at that point they were either going to take her out with the chair she was sitting or give her the chance to speak and tell the story of the gardens.
With that rocky start- our amazing collaboration with the Balcova municipality began full force.
With one by one, we have lost our connection to nature in our cities. Now nature is something that we have to go out to find- not something that is within our reach. Not realizing that we are a part of that nature- we have forgotten a part of our selves and a part of our culture.
This is why I wanted to bring back to my hometown: A community garden that is a reminder of our past and a hope for our future.
I was nervous: I didn’t know if this dream would come true. As expected. It took me by surprise. After 6 months of intensive negotiations with municipalities, countless phone calls with my mother Sema Altan- who refused to leave the municipality’s waiting lounge until they gave her permission to meet the Mayor, 10 days of intensive workshop and translating between Turkish & English, Now I receive the weekly calls that are priceless… My mother just called and with excitement she said: I just ate the first arugula from our garden!…
Not only the end result was important but the process of designing a garden with the community members gave birth to an amazing experience and a starting point of many beautiful projects like this to come.
We started our workshop with a slide show of inspirational examples of beautiful community gardens from all over the world- Berkeley, Europe, Australia…Our friends Evan & Morag who have been teaching sustainable gardening for many years, joined us for the workshop.
We had a mixed group of all incomes, & backgrounds: Retired, senior citizens, house wives, urban professionals, a dialysis patient who couldn’t leave his house for more than 6 hours, a group of nursing students who have dedicated a part of their curriculum to learn to plant alternative medicinal plants that are native to the area.
Then we asked them why they had decided to join such a project. I was very touched to find out that most volunteers had a dream of living in a house with a garden – an almost unreachable goal in today’s cities only the elite can have the luxury. When they found out that a garden was being formed, they all were excited to be a part of it. They realized they didn’t need to live in a house to achieve their dreams: to garden in peace and eat organic vegetables like they used to do when they were children.
When asked what they would like to see in their garden, their list included
a pond, an orchard, peace, green, all natural elements, wild flowers, organic vegetables bees, butterflies, chickens, an earth oven to bake their vegetables from the garden, a meditation area, a gathering area, a compost area.
No pesticides, no plastic chairs, no cement, no alcochol, no “mangal” scene was their common list of items that they did not want to see in their garden.
We then asked them to design their own garden by fitting all the list of things they wanted to see into the out line of the garden that was already drawn. Each group presented their ideas to the rest. It was great pleasure to witness volunteers who had no design background to design their own garden. At the end of the presentation, some apparent patterns that were agreed by all gardeners were put into a final garden design layout.
Once the plan was determined by all the gardeners on paper, we all went out to the field and chalked out the outlines of the design. It was amazing to see this idea evolving into a reality. Once all the common areas and lots were finalized, it was time to allocate everybody their own areas. I had imagined that this was going to be chaos. But to my surprise, I realized at the end of a truly democratic design process, we had created a civilized atmosphere where everybody was respectful of others- quietely one after the other our gardeners stood in the center of their each unique lots. When I looked up after the last stake was in- most people had tears in their eyes. All I remember was clapping sounds arising from the lot –soon to be our community garden.
In the following days, everybody started working on their own sections as well as the common areas such as the pathways and the pond areas. We conducted workshops on how to recycle garden waste and turn it into compost*, on worm composting* ,emphasized the importance of rain water collection & compost toilets. The tool shed was designed in collaboration with the gardeners. Since the community garden was surrounded by high apartments- We created a roof design that had native plants growing on the top- so when one looked down to the garden from one of the balconies, one could only see green vegetation, trees and wild flowers. No roofs- or constructed structures would be visible to the eye.
Since the community garden was surrounded by high apartments- We created a roof design that had native plants growing on the top- so when one looked down to the garden from one of the balconies, one could only see green vegetation, trees and wild flowers. No roofs- or constructed structures would be visible to the eye.
We had tremendous support of the Balcova Municipality and the Mayor during the process. At the beginning we had approached many municipalities in the region with photographs of the evolution of the Berkeley Peralta Gardens and the idea of starting something like this in Izmir as well. The only municipality that was open to our ideas was Balcova, and I would like to thank them for all their support.
During this process, I realized that in Turkey, there is an expectation by the communities that municipalities should do everything for them. Not many people decide to take the matters in their own hands if something bothers them. They expect everything to be done by the government- For example, providing the infrastructure was very important- such as allocating the land. But other matters such as constructing the path ways- the salary construction workers of the municipality were in no hurry- therefore we realized that volunteers could do the same task much faster and better than those who were paid to do so. This is the means which we worked.
The last two days were dedicated to organizational matters which layed the ground work for sustaining the garden. We guided the group to take their list of things that they did not want to see in the garden, and negotiate into a “Rules” outline. As a group they decided on the procedures to follow in determining how to deal with members that are not following the rules. We asked them to form committees that over seed certain areas such as: the orchard, the compost, the pond, the commons, etc. Also we asked them to vote for key members within each committees to represent- and a liaison person to the municipality. And a monthly calendar that they all agreed to meet.
I am really happy to hear that a month after the garden was formed, I receive emails, photographs and news from the garden members telling me how much it has changed their lives. A place that they can connect to nature in peace is hard to find in congested areas of a city. It is also a social support and network group. The municipality is also benefiting from this project- They are learning composting techniques that they are applying back to their nurseries. Also the municipality has one less lot to take care of.
Since the gardeners are from the neighboring apartments, there is a sense of ownership of the area when before it was a nomansland- This way it creates a more secure environment for the community to walk by, and enjoy the fruits of collaboration.
By the time my husband and I were leaving, there was so much interest in joining the garden that we had to start a waiting list- This list then lead it self to the future expansion of the garden by the municipality. If every neighborhood takes the matter into their own hands and creates a community garden with collaboration of the municipalites, perhaps then we can start reclaiming our lost ancient olive groves, grape orchards, and agricultural land with in our cities. So our children can relate and make that important connection to nature. And to those of us who have forgotten it, it will be a constant reminder how living near a garden, and eating organic vegetables directly effects our health and our pshycee.
If you are in the area of the EKOBA community garden, please visit & have a chat with one of the gardeners-With loving words, from our garden to your hearts and hoping to see many more gardens to mushroom around in our cities by the time you finish reading this article.
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