Sanyuanli Community Garden. A community garden in Beijing

Today I will tell you how it is and what the activities and experiences have been at the Sanyuanli Community Garden in Beijing. I already told you about this place in the post « COMMUNITY GARDEN IN BEIJING. Difficult but not impossible ”, where I told you why it came about and the difficulties they had to get it up and running.

A few days ago there was a big snowfall, so in my photos you don’t see much either… When I visited it, as you can see in the photo below, everything was covered in snow and the plants were frozen. To give you an idea of ​​how cold it is here in Beijing: today the maximum was -5ºC!!

In any case, with what they have told me and the photos they have given me of the past few months, I will be able to tell what this orchard is like and the activities that have been carried out since it was launched in April 2015.

Who has participated in this community garden?

Sanyuanli Community Garden is one of the earliest community gardens in Beijing. Being something a bit unknown here in the cities of China, the volunteers knew that it would not be easy for many people to be encouraged to participate.

Sanyuanli Community Garden Volunteer Group

When they launched the campaign to publicize the new project in the Sanyuanli neighborhood, there were many residents who seemed enthusiastic about the idea. Despite this, perhaps because of the somewhat introverted character of the Chinese, out of shame, or because it was something new, in the end only ten families wanted to participate firmly in the project and sign the agreement where they promised to take over the place and participate your care and activities.

Of those ten, only five (about eight or nine people) were involved from beginning to end in the maintenance of the garden, while the others attended only some sessions or activities. In any case, there were people who found out about the project later and who were added during the following weeks, until almost the end.

They coordinated and informed each other about the activities and events in the orchard through a Wechat group (which is the «Chinese WhatsApp», so that we understand each other), and at the end of the season, last September, already there were 39 people in this group.

Among the participants, in addition to the volunteers, there were several families with children (in total about 7 children, some 2-3 years old and others about 8 years old, who also participated in the workshops), several retired people and some young university students. In short: a group with people of all ages.

How is the in Sanyuanli Community Garden

Arrangement of the species in the orchard terraces

As I told you in the previous post, the garden is located in the backyard of a block of flats. It is not too big, about 60 square meters of space and more or less 12 square meters where it is grown in containers or terraces.

At first it was thought that it would house some 30 square meters of crops (thinking that some 20-30 families would be encouraged to grow crops here). As in the end there were not so many people participating in the orchard, this number was reduced to just 12 square meters of terraces.

In them they planted courgettes, peppers, carrots and onions (together they are a very good association to prevent pests in both crops), spinach, radishes, coriander, some typical vegetables from here (such as “Chinese chives” or Jiucai??) and beans.

The «Training Sessions»

One of the goals of the Sanyuanli Community Garden was to become a learning community for horticulture and sustainable practices. For this reason, one of the strong points of the project has been the training sessions.

There were 7 such sessions from April to September (when the growing season ended). During those days, experts on the subject such as architects, agronomists, composting experts or professional gardeners, led the theoretical-practical sessions. In them, they taught the horticulturists of the Sanyuanli Community Garden how to plan the garden, how to prepare seedbeds and transplant, how to take care of the garden, or fight against pests and

Making natural preparations with garlic and chili at Sanyuanli Community Garden

diseases with natural home remedies. There were also some more specific sessions, such as the one on July 5, in which they were taught to design the staggered arrangement of the terraces (Staggered harvest), or the session on vertical gardens or composting.

The sessions were very successful and the participants showed great interest and enthusiasm in learning new things. In fact, some of them have been encouraged to make their own compost at home or grow in pots on the balcony.

What will happen now with this community garden?

They don’t know very well whether the orchard will maintain its location next season or will change to a more convenient one (this patio was shaded for many hours a day). What is certain is that this community of urban gardeners will continue to grow and learn together.

Although starting it was difficult and the participation has not been massive, in my opinion it has been a complete success: this is a great step to promote Urban Agriculture in China. In fact, a community of neighbors in Beijing has already contacted the volunteers to create something similar in their garden.

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