Our overland journey to India last autumn allowed fascinating glimpses of Transition initiatives, and similar ventures, in countries we visited en route. Here’s one inspiring story from Romania.
We were swept straight into a community celebration day in the Community garden in Bucharest, one Saturday late in September, where Adina Moise and others had arranged a non-violent communication workshop, a feast of food from the community garden cooked by a band of willing volunteers, music and singing, and a film about the difficulties of shifting from a soviet-type culture of deference to ‘officialdom’ to one where community initiatives are welcomed and embraced. So much in one day!
This beautiful abundant community garden in which grow fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs, stands behind a big supermarket and close to a large car park in an area surrounded by tower blocks.
It was born of a collaboration between this supermarket chain and the Romanian Permaculture association. The garden is well-funded, allowing it to boast an excellent infrastructure of well-made raised beds with automatic watering systems, an inviting play area for children, attractive small buildings for office space, community gatherings, tools etc., and money for paying some administrative staff, and for materials for the garden.
People visiting the supermarket for shopping are also drawn into spending time in the garden, seeing this exemplary way of small scale organic food-growing, mostly undertaken by people living very locally, with days organised for occasional volunteers, enjoying the play and seating areas, and perhaps inspired to start similar ventures in other parts of the city, or even some small back-garden growing themselves?
Those pioneers behind the scheme are aware of the contradiction of taking money from the profits of retail outlets where the ethos of providing cheap food, whatever the cost to the earth and the farmers, over-rides other considerations; even knowing that this particular supermarket is whole-heartedly supportive of such a community garden. They continue to struggle with, and debate, the rights and wrongs of going down this path.
Is this a pragmatically creative way to go, or ‘supping with the devil’?
Wendy Stayte, former co-ordinator of Incredible Edible Totnes, journeying with Lindsey Stewart of Sustainable South Brent.