Our third and last for this season City Exchange took place September 21-23 in Rotterdam.
On the first day, we had the pleasure to cycle round the Groene Connectie, an 8km-long circular route which connects green initiatives throughout west Rotterdam. Our starting point was Spoortuin, a community garden along the train tracks. There we were welcomed by the local City Team and told the story behind this garden in particular and the whole Green Connection project in general. From there, we cycled to Voedseltuin Rotterdam, a community garden which, with the help of volunteers, produces healthy food for the local food bank. After having lunch there, we cycled south to Groene Oase op Zuid, where we learned about how the community is dealing with having to move their garden to a new place because of real estate development on the current site. Our next stop was the impressive Rotterdamse Munt, a real urban herb farm and events space. The place also has a shop where visitors can buy all sorts of teas, seeds and other products produced on site or by other green initiatives in the city. We finished our day with dinner at Wijkpaleis, a place which is a real success story of how neighbors joined forces to buy a former school building from the city in order to establish a community center. The building, whose top floor is still used as a school, now hosts also all kind of workshops, community dinners and other events.
On the next day we all gathered at the former Berberis school garden complex, where Natuurtalent now offers job opportunities to people who face challenges accessing the job market. The organization shares the space with Stadsboerin Rotterdam, a highly yielding CSA. After a chat with the farmer behind the CSA, we had a “speed dating” workshop, where participants had to team up with someone, they don’t know that well, and discuss what we considered to be the main values in our work. The talks were followed by a lunch in the garden and then we all headed towards the Rotterdam City administration towers, where the second part of the day took part on the 40th floor and with amazing views over the whole city! Here we met Rotterdam’s green broker and representatives of the Rotterdam Health program and the Rotterdam Climate program and discussed Rotterdam’s greening policy. The day program ended with a workshop on the use of the Diamond Model, led by project partner Alice Bischof.
The last day started at Stadskwekerij De Kas, a beautiful reclaimed inner yard which is now a knowledge center for urban ecology and biodiversity; as well as a plant nursery. There we saw the presentations of three different green initiatives—a neighborhood greening project, a rain garden and a community garden—and each participant chose where to go and help with some field, hands-on work for the next hour and a half. After the fun work at the different sites, participants gathered for lunch at Tuin op Hofbogen, a community garden and public park on the roof of an abandoned train station. The last activity of the exchange was a trip to the edible forest part of the Rotterdam Botanical Garden.
A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible!
This series of City Exchanges was extremely inspiring and we can’t wait to visit Andernach next year!