Urban Agriculture in Northern Spain
- brief observations
La Huerta Del Abuelo Rosel
A.W. Drescher, University of Freiburg
During a teaching stay at the University of Zaragoza (Zaragoza, Northern Spain) in April 1998, I observed an interesting example of urban agriculture. At first my Spanish colleagues didn't believe there was such a thing as urban agriculture, but by the end of the day they were convinced of this phenomenon.
We began our search for city farmers at the edge of the city, where market-oriented production of vegetables is still going on very close to buildings. Soon we found a particularly impressive site not far from the city centre - "La Huerta Del Abuelo Rosel" ("The Garden of Grandfather Rosel") - a small area of about 600 square metres of gardens in the middle of high buildings and busy streets.
The gardens can be considered one of the last remaining food gardens in what used to be productive open urban space. They are managed by some older people who live near by. For those in the city who have not had the chance to get a little piece of land, "La Huerta" is like a museum reminding people of their past.
People in Spain spend a lot of time outside due to the country's good climate. Older people are very attracted to the garden. It is well organized and even has a small irrigation system. Kids use the rest of the area for skating and complain about the space the gardens occupy.
People who watch the gardeners, participate indirectly in the production process by asking them about their management strategies and offering them advice based on their former experience as farmers.
I hope that "the museum" will be maintained in the future, so that it can show people who are far away from food production, how the urban environment was farmed in the past. Further research on the development of urban agriculture in Spain would be an interesting field especially with respect to historical aspects such as the influence of northern African agricultural traditions.
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