2015 | Dec
The idea of creating an urban farm was first aired in the premises of the Nature Club of Vrilissos in the summer of 2011. The Club is an active collective operating since 2001, which organises numerous hiking, climbing and educational trips in Greece. As the members themselves note while the economic crisis deepens, this idea is ripening fast, like a fruit in hot weather. Irene’s offer of a plot in Spata was key in turning the shared vision to reality. The “Agroscholoi Vrilissou” were born in October 2011, during the first visit to the plot which comprised a field and a vineyard.
The venture started with the cultivation of 100 sqm of land.
|“…a tough land, that had not been cultivated for years. It had to be tamed… by a bunch of starry-eyed city dwellers from Vrilissia. We worked the land, in all the ways suggested by our agronomist, Andreas… And so, little by little, the allotment took shape. 30 winter-hardy vegetable varieties were planted in this area: spinach, chard, Mediterranean hartwort, chicory, beets, carrots, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, potatoes… We used only natural cultivation methods… Our first lesson had been learnt! This gave us immense pleasure, the contact with the earth and the air and the dynamics of collegiality and creativity, at a time when no one believes that anything can bear fruit in the country…”|
The group started with a core of 20 people and is constantly growing. It works, like all collectives, on the basis of self-organisation, volunteerism, solidarity and the time that every member can dedicate to it. A periodically alternating five-member steering committee ensures the planning of actions and the smooth functioning of the allotment. Technical support is provided by an agronomist – organic farmer, who is a key member of the Agroscholoi. As in all activist collectives, the overall coordination and briefing of members about activities and farm tasks are performed online, using e-mails, text messages and blogs.
The Agroscholoi define themselves as nature lovers who claim public open spaces for productive social activities. Their purpose is the collective cultivation of the land, based on the principles of organic farming and other eco-friendly methods for the production of healthy and nutritious food. Their aim is not mass production to meet the nutritional needs of its members but to educate them about the functions and biological cycles of nature, to help them reconnect to the land and the orchards and to value collegiality, which is in such short supply in modern urban societies.