Huerta de Montecarmelo: an oasis of organic gardens in Madrid

This week I visited in Madrid « Rus in Urbe, La Huerta de Montecarmelo», a group of very special, different urban gardens. For the last three years, the Carmen Pardo-Valcarce Foundation (FCPV) has made it possible for urbanites to unite the illusion of cultivating their own orchards with the illusion of fourteen people with intellectual disabilities, who are in charge of cultivating them and maintain them daily.

Cultivation terraces in the orchards of Montecarmelo « Rus in Urbe, La Huerta de Montecarmelo» has 200 plots of 20 square meters each, small orchards where horticulture enthusiasts, new urban farmers and their families can live the experience of seeing grow and bring your own fruits, vegetables and vegetables directly from the garden to the table.

Social work of « Rus in Urbe, La huerta de Montecarmelo»

The Huerta de Montecarmelo represents a new concept of Urban Agriculture. Rather it is an agriculture of leisure and enjoyment, a «nature club».

In this place, users grow their food while enjoying a natural environment in the middle of the city, the wonderful views offered by this space and peaceful common areas where they can relax (the arbor, the terraces…).

View of the Montecarmelo orchard with the four towers in the background

There are currently 185 users who enjoy, each in their own way, this way of taking care of themselves: that of organic food and the relationship with nature.

Many of the people who have a rented orchard cultivate their plots collaborating and learning from the Personal Keepers (which is what “La Huerta” calls these workers with intellectual disabilities who make it possible for everything to be in order in the client’s plots).

There are other people who prefer to simply go to the garden to harvest their weekly harvest, and many others go every weekend with their children, so that they too have fun with this activity and can find out where the food that reaches their plates comes from.

Like school gardens, this is a more than enriching experience for children who, in addition to seeing things they are not used to (seeds that germinate and become vigorous plants, tomato plants full of tomatoes, lettuce that…come out of the ground! !!, chickens…), they come into contact with boys and girls with disabilities and can learn that they are people who are close, fun and not so different from the rest, which is a very useful tool for the socialization of children and themselves.

Pumpkin harvest in the orchards of Montecarmelo

For these people with disabilities, working in the gardens is a path towards social integration and personal satisfaction, not only because of the benefits of «labor therapy» or because they learn a trade that can feed them, but also because of the reward which for them means feeling useful to others and helping and advising clients, who place all their trust in them.

Have an urban garden in Fuencarral- El Pardo

If this idea of ​​having an urban garden in Madrid sounds like an interesting idea, «La Huerta de Montecarmelo» could be a good option because, in addition, you will be collaborating with the important social integration work that is carried out in this unique place. Hurry up! There are still free orchards!

Seedbeds with seedlings germinating in one of the greenhouses of «La Huerta»

Your garden fees not only include the land space, but EVERYTHING necessary for your crops to succeed:

  • Seeds, seedlings in seedbeds, seedlings ready to plant…
  • Irrigation: water intakes, installation of drip irrigation, showers…
  • Fertilizers and treatments.
  • All kinds of tools.
  • Reeds for trellising, thermal blankets or any cultivation tool you may need.
  • Personalized and continuous advice.
  • Recipes and gastronomic advice to enjoy even more the products of the garden.
  • Courses and workshops: urban gardens, introduction to the garden, preparation and maintenance, grafting, pruning techniques and pest treatment, «Small farmers» children’s workshops, etc.

More than just an urban garden

In addition to the orchards, you can find a locker and changing room area, a cafeteria and a shop.

The facilities also have several greenhouses, an area to make homemade compost in which waste is recycled to use it as fertilizer for the orchards, a covered seeding area where the seedlings or seedbeds are prepared and a «School Garden» to host visits schoolchildren.

Harvest of tomatoes and artichokes from the organic gardens of “La huerta de Montecarmelo”

But in «La huerta» you will not only enjoy farming, they also have chickens and there is a loft with 11 carrier pigeons, from the Pigeon Federation of Madrid, which will take part in the championships organized by this Federation. The aim of this activity is to disseminate this little-known sport and collaborate in the educational work for the members of the FCPV.

And… that’s not all! There are two birds of prey that are released from time to time to scare away sparrows and other birds that may eat the crops. As you can see, in «La Huerta» they have everything thought out!

An agriculture that respects the environment

How could it be otherwise, «La Huerta de Montecarmelo» is committed to the ecological management of crops, collaborating with the health of the planet and our own.

Against pests and diseases, preventive treatments are used above all (we saw in the article on fungal control that prevention is the most important thing) such as potassium soap solutions or Neem extract, and «trap plants» are also planted in orchards. » such as calendula or nasturtium to repel insects and ladybugs or other predatory insects are released to help reduce pests.

In exchange, the land gives us vegetables free of artificial chemical products and with a flavor that is difficult to match with the products that we find in the supermarket.

I hope that you have been as moved as I have been to discover this place and that you will soon let yourself be seen there, of course it is worth visiting!

And, if you want to know more, their website is:

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