A firm grip on a spade handle or a tentative poke into the soil to watch the worms come up was people’s idea of weekend fun in Woenselse Heide. Saturday March 4th saw the first spades firmly planted into the soil to create space for the very first fruit trees. An area in the Henri Dunant Park adjoining Playground The Splinter in Woensel noord is to be transformed into a communal forest garden.
The residents of Woenselse Heide will be planting, maintaining and harvesting, and so promote a flourishing flora and fauna population as well as a flourishing community. In a forest garden, different layers of vegetation ensure the health of the plants. The various layers -trees, shrubs, vegetables and herbs- reinforce eachother and reduce the likelihood of pests that appear when an area has only one type of vegetation, says Eloïse van der Laan, who took the initiative for this forest garden.
The forest garden is not fenced in. Anyone can enter and enjoy the area, and, in time, pick an apple or two, collect tomatoes or pumpkins for soup or cut a few sprigs of rosemary. Hugo Jansen, the manager of The Splinter, will supervise the area. For him, this day also marks the realisation of a long-cherished dream, and seeing so much enthusiasm brings him joy.
Children experienced first-hand what plants need and what makes people happy. Together with their parents and even some grandparents they helped dig the holes for the trees and plant some pumpkin seeds and cloves of garlic. Worms and millipedes also have their interest. If ever in their lives they are confronted with food shortages, what they learn in the forest garden may help them cope.
This publicly accessible forest garden will be a first in Eindhoven, but some of those who have come for the kick-off bring more than enthusiasm. They also come to bring their expertise. One of these is volunteer Gosia Morzevic.
Gosia, who has lived in the Netherlands for ten years with her Belarusian/Lithuanian husband, brings her enthusiasm and expertise to the project. She has an allotment garden, where she and her husband, children and mother experiment with fruit and other produce. “Gardening is experimenting”, she says. Experiment will tell you what will grow where, how the soil affect the plants. She is used to combining plants so that they will benefit from eachother, for example garlic to protect fruit trees from pests.
In her native country, Poland, fruit trees abound in public places so people can pick the fruit. This is what she would love to see in Eindhoven as well. Take the children to The Splinter, and on the way home pick an apple or a plum. Why she wants to be a volunteer for the project is this passionate conviction that we need to be around nature and teach our children about it. For herself, she values this opportunity to be among the Dutch community and hone her Dutch speaking skills.
written by Greta Timmers for Eindhoven News