<![CDATA[Urban Orchards - Pick Your (city) Fruits - Blog]]>Mon, 14 Mar 2016 07:14:26 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[Activities with children]]>Sun, 15 Nov 2015 16:43:58 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/activities-with-childrenAfter the failed attempts to meet all the school heads from the region in one single meeting promoted by the chairman of the Parish council (waiting and waiting for replies to emails, calls and visits), I tried to focus on one single school and contacted the head of the school closer to the orchard. No luck. I got the wrong emails given by the the secretaries, or had to speak to people who could not decide and asked for emails to be sent but then never responded, a new suggestion by the chairman of the parish council and a new wait... It was time to think small and try a new approach: knock on the door of a smaller school and ask to see its coordinator. She was very open and welcomed the proposal for activities with great enthusiasm. We agreed in having activities both in class as after that in the orchard. First there will be a session at school, to talk about fruits, trees, times of the year, making links of each year curricula to to the orchard. Then we'll take children to the park and observe, draw and collect elements that relate to the orchard. And then, once the planting is scheduled, children will be invited to join us, and return throughout the year to care for a part of the orchard. The activities will be developed with different classes of groups 1, 2 and 3 (6, 7 and 8 year olds).
Another activity is being developed with high-school kids studying arts, to draw the change in the orchard throughout the year, focusing on detailed observation, drawing from the observed in the orchard and aiming at raising their interest in the maintenance of the orchard (maybe beside drawing they'll end up orcharding as well!)

<![CDATA[Delivery of Project Plan to the Municipality]]>Sun, 15 Nov 2015 16:34:19 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/delivery-of-project-plan-to-the-municipalityPicture
It took longer than expected and wished for, but finally the project plan was ready to be delivered. Because of the difficulties encountered during the process (particularly the idea of the orchard being participatory, cared for by a community and, not just a plantation of trees by the municipality) it was clear that the project plan had to be more than a drawing and a wish list of tree varieties and materials, but a document covering issues from plantation process, choice of plants, managing and care of the orchard, considerations on the establishment of an association to maintain and organize activities around the orchard to ensure the participation at all times of the community, in short, a document that could translate the findings of the research process and explain the importance of the educational aspect of the project.

In order to do this, we first made a survey of existing trees and shrubs in the park, we studied the previous design of the park, we spoke to several people of different areas, we called for public meetings and discussions, we spoke to visitors of the park, with the parish council, with an agronomist responsible for the maintenance of the park, we studied trees interactions and needs and studied all we could.
So, the depth and scope of the project plan are much wider and consistent then the first drafts, not only in terms of design and its adaptability to the place, its richness in species varieties and their interrelation (the study of biodiversity increase, habitat creation and attraction of predators for possible pests), the aesthetic integration and improvement of the already existent in the site, but also because it has become more than an orchard as a place of gathering to learn about food and sustainability, but also to learn how to grow as a community.

The project is divided in 5 chapters:
I-  Introduction to the project
II- Technical description 
III-Specifications/ Terms of reference
V- Program of Activities
We had a final meeting before the trip to Warsaw, and then we delivered our project plan to different departments of the Municipality. Now we're waiting for some reaction. Last news we had was that the different departments are going to meet, but it is not granted that the city will use either our design or our program. Anyway, we will not step aside easily!
<![CDATA[After Finland, conclusion of project plan]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 21:00:47 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/after-finland-conclusion-of-project-planSo, the answer for Southern European countries (and others as well, Finland may well be the exception and not the rule out there) is to invest in EDUCATION. Making educational programs and workshops, creating events for the broader community. Programs to educate children (who then share with older siblings and parents) to care for the public space. It is not just about keeping an orchard, but how to change the mindsets on the use of the public space, sharing and enjoying it together.

Once back in Lisbon, it was time to get some more work done and conclude the elaboration of the project plan. We were trying to get meetings with the municipality for several weeks already, to discuss the implementation and to stress the importance of education, not only at a technical level (how to plant, prune, harvest...) , but also cultural, to increase citizenship and the awareness of the existence of the project  and to create a community of urban orchardists.  We had no luck there (August is a dead month here) but we had many meetings to draw the final project. We met with a professor of fruit production from  the Superior Institute of Agronomy (ISA), who was delighted to help out, and assist us in the implementation of the orchard, with the possibility for a post-graduate student from ISA  to do a thesis on the project! She also provided good information regarding fruit varieties and their specific needs. Then we had a meeting with a Permaculture specialist who gave some feed-back on our preliminary project and suggested some minor changes.
There was a good meeting with the President of the parish council, who, once again, proposed a joint meeting with the heads of all the schools of the area, from nurseries to universities, public and private. He invited us to teach a course on Orchards at the Senior University, a good way to get seniors involved in the project.  (unfortunately we are still waiting for that group meeting, despite emails and phone calls and what not). He offered the information panels and magazine of the parish council to share information on the project, advertise workshops and so on. 
As this project is being developed in a park that has been recovered with a project by a team of landscape architects, we decided we needed to meet with them and listen to their reading of the park and their view of our project. We felt we couldn't just make a new plan without considering the work developed by others. We had a very long meeting with the team leader and he was truly enthusiastic with our plan. He gave us access to the previous design, all the drawings and materials in order to be able to make a proposal taking advantage of what is there already. He suggested us to expand the orchard throughout the park and not just limit it to a plot (which was our intention from the beginning, but that wasn't so well received by the municipality department with which we need to work with). We spoke about the desire of part of the community to have tropical fruits besides the heirlooms, and then, together we thought that as the lake in the park is supposed to represent S. Tomé and Principe, it would be a nice place to introduce tropical fruits, they will probably not be that sweet (if they do succeed to grow there), but 
<![CDATA[Orchard news!]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 16:51:31 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/orchard-newsThe summer went rather fast, we had many meetings on the orchard that it was hard to keep up with the blog... But here we go again, updating what has been going on with the project.

Looking for public fruits in Finland 

Lahti  - XIth IIAA summer conference on Environmental Aesthetics

In August Urban Orchards-Pick Your (city) Fruits went north. I was at the IIAA 2015 summer conference on "Sustainable City Life. Exploring Aesthetic Values in Urban Settings" in Lahti, with a presentation entitled "Orchards as Sustainable Art Projects: Urban Orchards and the Idea of Aesthetic Experience of the City"", sharing the preliminary results of the project, how it brings people together and the impact it can have on the appropriation of the public space. There was a great response and support from the audience, as well as a nice debate and exchange of thoughts, ideas and plans for the future.
The previous evening, at the conference dinner, we went berry picking in the woods around the lake, which was a great experience and wonderful introduction to my presentation!
Delicious wild raspberries! There were also wild blueberries, back and red currants and the most amazing wild strawberries. We'll be including fruits bushes in our design, that's certain!


After the conference. I headed for Helsinki, to meet Joel from Dodo, an environmental organization that, among other interests, develops projects related to urban agriculture. I had seen some of those projects online and thought it would be nice to visit them and learn on spot. It was very nice indeed!
The project I was most interested in was Syötävä puisto, an edible garden open for anyone to join and harvest, with fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetables. Joel was very nice and took me there, explaining how it works and difficulties faced. 
It was really nice to see a fruit garden planted a year ago already producing. Besides, it is a really nice place! It was great to learn about how it works, their strategies for maintaining and keeping it running.
The trees and shrubs are watered with hose or watering can. There are volunteers that adopt trees and are responsible for watering them. There are workshops, training courses and summer events in the edible garden.
Tyrni (Fin), Hippophae rhamnoides (lat) Sea Buckthorn (Eng) or Espinheiro marítimo (Port). Delicious and very healthy (high doses of Vit.C), but really sour! A pioneer plant in Finland, also occurring in Portugal (good news for our orchard!)
On the way to the edible garden we passed by a pear orchard planted by the municipality when a new apartment block was built some years ago. It wasn't planted as a community orchard, but it was expected that residents would harvest the trees, which they do, of course!
It is wonderful to see how urban agriculture projects thrive in Helsinki, how people are engaged and respect them. This may sound weird for a Finn, but in Portugal one of the main concerns people show us in what relates to "public fruit" is: Won't people steal the fruits? Isn't it all taken away as soon as it ripens? Am I going to work for months in a row to water and protect a tree for someone to came along along steal it? NO. Not in Helsinki! It is great to hear that as people see the public space as theirs, it makes no sense for them to vandalize it or to spoil it, let alone steal (when I mentioned theft to Joel I realized stealing is the wrong word here, as taking a couple of fruits with you is precisely what is expected from you).
If you're wondering about the nets around the tree trunks...
look at the center of the picture.... trees must be protected from rabbits! In winter, when there is not much food around, tree trunks are a treat!
<![CDATA["Germination for the Future", Seminar at Konstancin, Poland.]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 16:03:00 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/germination-for-the-future-seminar-at-konstancin-poland
Izabela Zalewska-Kantek, Idea maker 2014, also an ECF grantee, invited me to participate at the Seminar "Germination for the Future" that she organized as culmination of her project. It was a wonderful event, a great opportunity for Urban Orchards - Pick Your (city) Fruits to share the process of our project, sharing thoughts, learning with the other presenters, and enjoying a very nice gathering of people around educational gardens. It was also very pleasant to be with 2 Idea Makers (Izabela of course, and Yaroslava Tytarenko, who was also invited to present her project "Library supported Tourism") and to talk with Joanna from Krytyka Polityczna, whom I had met in Marseille last year (Krytyka is a hub collaborating with ECF).

Next day, Izabela arranged for me to meet​ Karol Podyma, who had spoke about meadows during the Seminar, but who also has a project to recover an old orchard in Warsaw, in an area that was from the military and has become a public park, where he "discovered" old apple trees amidst a densely planted part. So the old trees were pruned and trimmed, some invasive trees were cut down, and a few fruit bushes were planted. It is a really nice orchard, and it was interesting to see how its developing. They also want to plant new trees and to have activities to bring the community in. We could find many contact points between our projects and approaches. Kamil Baj, who presented his urban beekeeping project at the Seminar, is going to bring bee hives to this orchard, which is something we had been talking about in our own orchard!
​Karol's Orchard

After that Izabela, Yaroslava and I had a working session, to see how our projects differ but had common goals and similar processes. 
Izabela and her really nice daughter Kamila, prepared a fantastic program for us, besides the already wonderful days with the seminar, Karol's encounter and our working session, we went to visit the University's Library Roof Garden (with a great view of Warsaw), to  Łazewski park (Izabela used to be a guide of the park, so we had a really nice visit with a lot of details and stories), and then, a visit to the botanic garden in Konstancin, that has.... 430 different varieties of apple trees!
Rows and rows of apple trees, some old, some young, of many different shapes and sizes. A really beautiful place!
Raspberries without spikes. Maybe a good variety for the orchard, Raspberry or blackberry plucking without stung and scratched hands sounds nice but also a bit like cheating!!

Cornus officinalis (Japanese cornel dogwood). The dried fruit is used in Chinese herbal medicine.
Malus hupehensis - Tea crabapple
Mespilus germanica - very different from the Portuguese Nêspera!
And many more fruits. I was particularly interested in the peaches, as they were trimmed in a way that supposedly avoids diseases. That is to be looked into with more detail, as we were told by many to avoid planting peaches in our orchard (there is a saying in Portugal that goes "Quem não quer deixar nada aos seus herdeiros planta um pomar de pessegueiros" , or he who does not want to leave anything to his heirs, plant an orchard of peaches), I guess if we nail this pruning technique we'll have many delicious summer peaches!
The time spent in Warsaw was indeed very rich and stimulating. I am very grateful to Izabela and Fundacja Virid'or for the invitation and for all she did to make it such a memorable experience. 
<![CDATA[Building a community]]>Sun, 05 Jul 2015 16:42:40 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/building-a-communityOne of the key moments of this project is to produce a design to deliver to the municipality. We wanted to organize a meeting under the trees with several different projects to talk about community building, food security, appropriation of the public space and other topics that speak loud to us. But as we were recently invited to be part of such a gathering, it looked more promising to invite people for a picnic and share ideas on the design of the orchard. 
There was a facebook event, invitations sent, posters put up... Then sunday came and...it was raining cats and dogs! Many people called asking if we were canceling, but we decided to go on and stick to the plan. Just before the start of the gathering it was pouring rain, but then it became a beautiful afternoon. A few brave people showed up and we had a vibrant discussion on issues as managing the orchard, negotiating budget with the municipality and on the activities that should be included in the educational part of the project in order for a community to be built.  
Then someone suggested the plantation of tropical fruits like bananas or passion fruits, so a discussion started on whether the orchard should stick to regional fruits and the preservation of heirlooms, or if we could include a section with foreign fruits. There was no final decision as a consensus wasn't reached. We decided to bring the issue up at the 2nd meeting "Que Pomar Queremos?" (What for Orchard do we Want?)
So, a week later, we gathered again under the trees to think together. Firstly, we learnt that more of the existing trees are edible. We had chosen this particular spot of the park because it had old pear trees (7 pear trees!), we hadn't noticed an old walnut on the corner until the previous meeting (probably because it was very damaged and old, but now, full of young nuts and bright green leaves it was unimaginable not to notice it!). However, we didn't know that the fruits of the Lódão (Celtis australis L., or nettle tree) are edible, so, besides pears and walnuts, our future orchard already has honeyberries! 

We could also identify chicory in the meadow, alongside a few bushes of rosemary and lavender. We had a stroll around the park to identify more trees and taste the (now mature) prunes and pears. We made a list of the fruits we want to plant, and which species should be planted as a fence (to draw the boundaries of the orchard, both to identify it within the park, and for protection  - mostly to protect young trees from dogs running loose). 

Some people drew ideas on how the orchard should look like, others gave verbal suggestions and we all spent a great afternoon in the orchard to be, with plans to spread the orchard into other areas of the city in the future (but first we have to set this one going!)
Next step: identify some of the trees that are still unidentified and integrate the suggestions of this meeting on the preliminary design. 

A fruit bounty!

Remember the young fruits we found in the beginning of Spring we were uncertain as to whether they were wild or edible? At the time we guessed they were cherry plums, but after all they are delicious sweet prunes of an old variety. The association Colher para Semear ("harvest to sow" an association for the preservation of heirlooms) will work with us in order to help us identify this particular variety. We will then collect some cuttings to graft in young rootstocks in order to propagate this fruit within the nurseries that keep traditional fruits (and among all the urban orchardists we hope to awaken!) 
<![CDATA[Speaking at the 1st encounter for ECO ACTIVISM at Quinta dos 7 nomes]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:58:54 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/speaking-at-the-1st-encounter-for-eco-activism-at-quinta-dos-7-nomes
We were invited to present our project at the 1st encounter on ECO-ACTIVISM at Quinta dos 7 nomes on Seed Sharing, Guerrilla Gardening, and mostly about TTIP. We spoke of the urban orchard as a change to come together and show one's choice of the kinds of food we want to eat; have a chance to participate in one's own food process; be active in the public space by creating places to meet one another and share knowledge, food, experiences and fun.
It was a great day, with a full house of engaged people and good vibes! 
<![CDATA[An orchard experience in the city, or a garden with fruits?]]>Fri, 29 May 2015 13:04:56 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/an-orchard-experience-in-the-city-or-a-garden-with-fruitsThis was Gaetano's question during the research time at Pollinaria. Ultimately, what is the experience one is hoping to offer not only to the nearest community, but to the urban visitor of the park? Is it the possibility to experience a park and discover edible fruits in it, or to somehow bring a rural experience to the city and create the place so that one can walk around an urban park with fruit trees more densely planted, that is, an orchard?

I can think of good experience in both models. I have always been wary of regular spacing woods (planting trees following mechanization-boosting patterns, so planting for the easiness of maintenance, that many landscape architects opt for in their designs), as I tend to think of a wood as a "natural" thing, that gets more dense here and less dense there according to the site (following geological, climatic, animal presence and other factors), some trees propagate themselves in packed form while others in a more loose manner. But the regular pattern of 3x4, 4x4 or 5x5 are just weird for me. Too strict, too much designed. 
There was someone that emailed me, very concerned, before giving his vote to Fruta à mão (the project under vote in the Participatory Budget). He wanted to be sure the park wasn't going to be turned into a high-production-like orchard, I told him I disliked regular plantations and did not want to create such an orchard. However, now I could see Gaetano's point. One thing is a productive orchard, another is a forest, another is a garden with fruits... Hum. How to solve this?

I would say that the point of the our orchard is not to just add a few trees with fruits, but to create an impact that demonstrates the potential of fruit in the city, and that exemplifies that productive trees are just as beautiful as ornamental ones, contributing for the aesthetic experience of the city along with providing food (and remembering urbanites that not all food need to be bought, that we can turn our public space into a commons. What is then the best way to do it, with a garden with fruits or with an "orchard-orchard"? Should we be planting along a defined form, like a spiral? Put as many trees as possible, but not be precise with their distances?
Those questions will be debated on our round table at the orchard, on June 14th. Come along, share your thoughts!! ]]>
<![CDATA[May 29th, 2015]]>Fri, 29 May 2015 12:21:15 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/may-29th-2015As soon as the project started, I begun to imagine what the orchard could become and how it would look like. At first grand images of incredible beautiful orchards came to mind, with all the fruits one can think of —  usual fruits in Portugal like oranges, apples, cherries, peaches... but also those that would thrive in similar climates but that are not common here (like white sapote). Hey! I even thought of experimenting with tropical fruits like mangos and pawpaws, picturing an Urban Orchard with a multitude of colors, scents and, above all, flavors!
Throughout the first few meetings with people interested in the orchard the main idea didn't change: turning the public park into a small scale diversity library with portuguese and foreign heirlooms. Using the ornamental fruit trees as rootstocks for grafting edible varieties (grafting edible pomegranates on the ornamental ones; grafting apricots on cherry plums and so on) and planting other fruits, following a permaculture approach so looking at our site as a food forest, we would plant tall and small trees, fruit bushes (raspberries, blueberries, aronias...), vines (kiwi's, different passionfruits and grapes), not forgetting to plant guilds around the trees for nutrient improvement of the soil and to attract pollinators. 
The drawing below shows a first draft of the project. From the existing trees, only those that produce fruit are represented (we didn't have access to a plan of the park then, while we were waiting for having access to one from the municipality, we thought it was best to start putting in paper some thought ). What is called "new guild" represents the paths along which trees would be planted according to the flows of the site (wind, water, light). 

Then, as I delved into the research I realized that it would be advisable to stay within certain boundaries, and focus mainly on the portuguese heirlooms (at least as a starting point). The area is not that large to accommodate the diversity dreamed of, as the park is already quite full of trees, and the space that the municipality is willing to assign to the project is just a small part of the park (approximately  a square of 50 x 50 m). 
Now, finally, we have the park's plans with all the existing trees, so we can better develop our project!
To that end, we are organizing a meeting at the orchard, a sort of round-table (+ picnic) discussion on urban food projects and how to create a community. Everyone is invited to come along and share ideas on such topics and contribute to the design of the orchard. On 14th of June at 16h30, under the trees.  Just bring a blanket to sit and a picnic basket to share!
<![CDATA[Talking about Fruit Trees in Tavira]]>Mon, 25 May 2015 16:02:20 GMThttp://pickyourcityfruits.weebly.com/blog/talking-about-fruit-trees-in-taviraAs one of the lecturers at the conference "Leituras Contemporâneas da Paisagem" (contemporary readings of the landscape) at the Municipal Library in Tavira on May 8th, I was supposed to give a talk about urban orchards, but instead of staying at the conference room, me and my colleague Maribel Sobreira (who was going to talk about bringing the landscape into the city) decided to take our audience along in a stroll around the city of Tavira, bringing our talks about urban issues into the city itself instead of talking about cities inside a black, closed, room. 

Tavira, land of orange production (as most of the Algarve — the best oranges in Portugal along with those coming from the microclimate of the Douro region) unsurprisingly has many orange trees in its streets. The funny thing is that the orange trees in the city were of the bitter varieties. Ornamentals, thus!
Along with oranges, Tavira is full of Banana trees, also planted as ornamentals... 
On the edible side, we could spot a beautiful Passionfruit and several Peruvian pepper trees. Then, there were many pomegranates and fig trees, and sweet oranges (finally!) but those were planted within private properties... We've learned that Tavira has had many vegetable and fruit gardens within the city (a few of those still remaining), however, not public but private ones. 
So, there is work to be done in promoting Public Fruit in Tavira as well!!