Community garden in Madrid: El Campo de Cebada

I already told you some things about community gardens and about the ReHd Mad! in the article « Network of community urban gardens in Madrid «. Now we are going to visit some of the orchards on the network and show you everything we see so that you can be a little closer and, why not, join them or create new ones in your cities!

Me in the «throne» made with pallets and, behind, the vertical garden (waiting for the new plants)
On the right, Álvaro with the sieve to sift the compost, also made of reused materials.

Together with my colleague Álvaro I will visit and find out what is going on in some of the orchards of the ReHd Mad! and we will make all these things known in new articles in the “Organic Gardens” category and on the newly launched YouTube channel “Agrohuerto TV”, where Álvaro will post very interesting videos about our visits and about the steps he himself is following to create an organic garden from scratch. We hope you like it!

The beginnings of El Campo de Cebada and its orchard

The Campo de Cebada is an open space temporarily ceded by the Madrid City Council to the neighborhood associations of the emblematic neighborhood of La Latina, in Madrid, and to anyone who wants to participate and enjoy it.

It is possible that in your city, in your neighbourhood…there are also disused public spaces like this one, and the creation of urban gardens in these places can be an alternative to rehabilitate them, so…let’s get to work! If you are interested in doing something like this in your neighborhood, you can find out all the details of how the transfer process was and the project for the rehabilitation of this place in the following link: Campo de Cebada

Since the project began in 2011, El Campo de Cebada has gone from being an abandoned and unused lot (in this place was the old Sports Center of La Latina that was demolished in 2009), to being a meeting point for the residents of the neighborhood, a multicultural and multidisciplinary space in which children and adults can enjoy a lot of activities: you can play sports, attend workshops, markets, assemblies, film sessions, theater, concerts, meetings, social, cultural debates… and as! grow an urban garden

The idea of ​​the orchard arose shortly after the transfer of the plot was signed, when it was still an empty space and in the process of being rehabilitated. Thanks to the initiative of the neighbors, it was decided that the cultivation of a garden in the middle of the city would be an enriching and very welcome activity for the users of El Campo de Cebada, so everything began to be planned.

The neighborhood garden: a reality

And it was said and done! In just three days they already had the first step. They built the cultivation tables with wooden planks: eight planters were made 4.20 meters long by 1.40 meters wide, and height… you can see it in the photo, about a meter (so that they are accessible and comfortable for everybody).

The second challenge was to get the substrate to fill the terraces. As they told us between laughs, a lot of crazy ideas arose to get the land! But getting tons of soil to the Campo de Cebada was not an easy task…and finally they found the company Abonos Alonso, which was able to provide them with the much-needed substrate.

Panoramic view of the orchard in El Campo de Cebada

Once the place was decided, the cultivation containers installed and the substrate prepared, the irrigation of the orchard was planned. From the tanks that you can see at the top of the photo, the water arrives by gravity to the drip irrigation systems that are installed on each cultivation table (the bottom tank to irrigate the closest terraces and the top one to those on the right, the furthest, so that the water arrives with sufficient pressure).

The gardeners of El Campo de Cebada

The team of people interested in the garden was and still is very diverse, and I think that is the key to the success of a community place like this: everyone collaborates with what they can and have, and share what they are and what they know with others.

Gardener hidden behind her lettuce
Talma with the harvest of lettuce and chard

As Talma (who we can see in the photo above) told us, there are many types of market gardeners: there are the “builders”, such as Manuel, carpenters, artisans, architects… who do their bit for the construction of the tables, chairs, containers, recycled planters…and much more.

Manu in «the rest chair» after work

There are also «sages in the art of cultivating» who know many things about managing the garden and its tasks: experienced gardeners who, for example, teach those who are new to the garden. Others know more about composting, others more about irrigation, pests… and together they carry out the garden of El Campo de Cebada !

What is grown is distributed among all the gardeners who collaborate, although, as they told us, it is not the main reason why they work the garden, since they are still «beginners» and do not have large harvests. Rather, it is an entertainment activity, to get out of the routine and stress of the city, which also gives them the opportunity to meet and interact with other people.

This is just a small sample of what Álvaro and I discovered in the garden of El Campo de Cebada. More things and more photos in the second part of the “report” (“ Growing an URBAN GARDEN: COMPOSTING AND PLANTATION ”) and… right there! You can stop by to meet them whenever you want, you will feel at home

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