Community garden in Madrid: THIS IS A PLAZA Lavapiés

Good agrohuertistas! We continue to get to know the Network of Community Gardens in Madrid and last week we had the pleasure of being in the urban garden of ESTA ES UNA PLAZA.

I am going to confess that doing these reports we feel very gratifying because we are getting to know orchards located in such characteristic points of Madrid as El Campo de Cebada, Cantarranas or Montecarmelo ; which we did not know much about.

ESTASUNAPLAZA could not be out of tune, and it is located in the Lavapies neighborhood. let’s meet them

How did ESTA ES UNA PLAZA begin?

In 2008, in the heart of the Lavapíes neighborhood, a group of people used an abandoned lot owned by the city council to carry out a workshop on the occupation of empty spaces. The main idea was a temporary intervention to transform the vacant lot into a green space, with the orchard as its central point.

This workshop should have lasted a week, but in the neighborhood there was a great success and they wanted to continue. This led to a long process with the city council in which, in between, the neighbors had to deal with an eviction and destruction of what was inside. Meanwhile, work was being done to obtain the relevant licences.

Finally, in 2009, the members of ESTA ES UNA PLAZA obtained a temporary occupancy license for 5 years. At the moment, this permit is about to run out, but they are calm since they believe that the objective has been fulfilled. They have created a space for meeting and socializing within the neighborhood where they carry out many cultural and artistic activities.

Right now, you can find in ESTA ES UNA PLAZA a good variety of free workshops for everyone. In the two days that we have visited this space, we have been lucky enough to enjoy an improvised theater workshop and a ladies’ concert with a great atmosphere. If the idea of ​​approaching you is itching, I leave you here their website where you can find their activities

How are they organized?

As you can see, there is a good variety of activities. The organization of all of them is carried out through work groups in which they later meet in an assembly to deliberate on the organization of the space.

What is the orchard of ESTA ES UNA PLAZA like?

It is a totally shared orchard, that is to say; there is a specific working group for the orchard which is the one that manages the orchard. There is no separation of terraces by families or friends. All the terraces belong to everyone. This spirit is noticeable even at the time of collection, in which what is collected is shared with all the members of the square. THE GARDEN BELONGS TO EVERYONE!

Regarding the design of the orchard, the association GRAMA (Action Group for the Environment) lent a hand to ESTAESUNAPLAZA in the manufacture of the terraces. Later, the neighbors began to learn for themselves, each contributing their wisdom.

Is it an organic garden?

Absolutely YES, it is an ecological orchard that belongs to the Network of Orchards of Madrid

At the beginning, ESTA ES UNA PLAZA bought the seedlings and little by little they have been getting their own seeds, thanks to a nursery they have; and they have been exchanging with other orchards of the ReHd Mad!. So right now, most of the seeds come from trading with other orchards.

Within the terraces, we have seen that the members have carried out a good planning of the orchard. To anticipate any possible plague of an insect, they have placed the aromatics at the beginning and at the end of each terrace. In addition, they have planned a crop rotation to facilitate the absorption of nutrients and avoid wear and tear on the land.

What other procedures do you use in ESTA ES UNA PLAZA?

They explained to us that they had used potash soap and nettle slurry at some point, especially at the beginning of the orchard.

The orchard has a drip irrigation system that is used in the summer. During the winter, they have a winter garden but they do not use drip irrigation, instead they water according to need manually.

They have also installed a compost bin for making your own compost, which has good signage that makes it clear to people what to throw (raw vegetables, coffee, non-citrus fruits to avoid a sharp drop in pH). They have three different areas: an area where organic waste is deposited, another area where it is at rest and a third where they have worms.

As I have said recently, they have a nursery that has a curious history. In C/Olivar there was a vacant lot where they held the Lavapiés film festival and they had a complex geodesically designed dome that they moved without dismantling it when they vacated the site.

In addition to the orchard, the ESTA ES UNA PLAZA space has more than 30 fruit trees.

Other things they have are composting workshops, seed workshops…and they have a garden radio !

The management of the orchard is open to anyone and if you are interested you can come on Wednesdays and Sundays, which is the day of work in the orchard. For more information visit their website and Facebook. We encourage you to visit it.

See you in the orchard!

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