A walk around the newest neighbourhood of Aarhus, the second biggest city of Denmark, offers not only award winning architectural sights like 'The Iceberg', but also sights that take one by surprise. Nestled next to its famous neighbour lays Ø-Haven. An urban farming project which comes as a colourful surprise amidst the continuously rising new developments.
Supported by Foreningen Pier 4, a group of landowners, the municipality of Aarhus, and considerable citizen interest, Ø-Haven has become success almost from day one. Currently boasting 150 urban gardeners, the project leaders expect to be able to offer other 150 enthusiasts a place to grow their vegetables and herbs.
'The 2014 season was a great success, but we have even higher expectations and plans for 2015. Currently we have a total of 450 people who have signed up for a garden which means a waiting list, and we believe that 250 of them will get their own kitchen garden. And of course once you get your garden, you have to be active and take care of it... If you don't, someone else is waiting in line to take your place.' says Anders Laursen, project manager at Foreningen Pier 4.
How can I get an urban garden?
Well, apart from the limited places, there are no other barriers, anyone can join. All they need to do is send a TEXT MESSAGE to 1919 with text ØHAVEN, and sign up with the text they get in return. Once the lucky ones are selected, they get two boxes of 2 sq.m. and some earth, and all they have to do is build their kitchen gardens and start growing their crops of choice!
What Ø-Haven has achieved so far is not only promoting the importance of home grown ecological food, but it has also succeeded in bringing the people to a new and a rather grey looking area of the city. The social aspect is also important. It is not only about growing vegetables and herbs, meeting with people who share the same interest and passion about gardening, and being able to share advices or just chat about everyday affairs, plays an important role in the project's success.
Future plans focus on involving the residents from the neighbouring buildings to become an active part from the project by setting up a compost system, and allowing the residents to join in producing ecological compost which will later be used for everyone's kitchen gardens.
Urban gardening might be a new phenomenon, but for sure it is here to stay. Initiatives like Ø-Haven show that if done in the right way, they have the power to evoke interest in people and really even improve the quality of life in certain areas. This really is the heart of urbanism.