November 25th 2022, the fourth Friday in November. Recent years have marked this day as ‘Black Friday’, a day marketed as the ultimate discount day where consumption is the main intention. We, however, opted for 'Green Friday' instead. For the first time ever, our stores and webshop were closed for the entire day as a call out to consume less. Moreover, we wanted to use our time more productively and spend it far away from anything to do with sales and consumption.
Picture: Voedseltuin Rotterdam
Volunteering at the Voedseltuin Rotterdam
Our team ended up volunteering at the Voedseltuin Rotterdam (The Food Garden Rotterdam), an urban garden, growing seasonal fruit and vegetables for the ‘voedselbank' (food bank) and other social projects. In addition, Voedselltuin Rotterdam is also an employment project for people affected by unemployment and the local labour market.
And what a day it was!
We arrived at what felt like a green oasis in the middle of an industrial district (the M4H area). To be fair, not just industrial. For those familiar with the sight, Voedseltuin Rotterdam is located next to Atelier Van Lieshout, and the garden is also home to some of its neighbour's sculptures.
Arriving at the garden is a breathtaking treat. Not to mention the warm welcome we got from the people running the place. With only a few permanent team members, the garden is maintained by a large number of volunteers. This is part of the garden’s purpose: an open place where people can meet and do something, from producing food to being active in green areas to developing skills.
Our day was filled with digging, clearing pathways, organising parts of the garden and preparing 150 Christmas goodie bags for kids in the area.
The garden has implemented elements of permaculture principles. The overall design has been thoroughly thought through, taking into consideration what will grow where and how it can serve other parts best. Every element in the Voedseltuin has multiple functions. Various water elements are present throughout the garden in order to catch and preserve as much water as possible. The soil needs to be looked after to avoid exhaustion. We learned that some plants need more energy, and by moving them, you can keep both plant and soil energy levels up. The same approach is applied to those who volunteer at the Voedseltuin. Individual qualities are acknowledged and nurtured. Homemade food is prepared in the kitchen for those who are working, and everyone is welcome for a cup of tea.
Go and explore!
The main takeaway for us: GO and visit! To explore the garden, get to know the sight, possibly meet someone, have a chat, see if you can help?
Or, if this story intrigues you from afar: Voedseltuin Rotterdam almost entirely depends on gifts and donations from funds and companies.
Every contribution is welcome, and they constantly look for new ‘friends’. As a Friend, you contribute to sustainable food production for people with a small budget and the development of a green, healthy oasis in the city.
We’ll definitely be back, maybe see you there!
More information can be found at www.voedseltuin.com
Our Green Day was inspired by Dille & Kamille, who initiated the Green Friday idea.