The allotment gardeners of De Koekelt have gathered for a potluck in De Koekelt on Saturday, third of September. Surinam, Turkish, Italian, Georgian, and Dutch gardeners prepared food with the vegetables of their garden which, all together, made a very tasty and varied lunch.
I am doing my thesis on De Koekelt, trying to find out how to strengthen sense of community and participation of the gardeners. De Koekelt is an allotment garden in Ede with gardeners of twelve different nationalities. By walking around one can recognize great differences between the gardens. Some grow more flowers, others more vegetables, some gardeners build a place to sit down and enjoy, while others use their space in the most efficient way to produce as much food as possible.
These differences are appreciated by the gardeners, but create friction as well: “Why do foreigners need to grow so many beans?” or “Why do Dutch women only grow flowers and weeds on their garden?”
With help from three gardeners, I organized the potluck, where the gardeners had a chance to appreciate the differences between themselves, by tasting the different meals each gardener proudly prepared from their own garden products. By eating together, they used the opportunity to speak with gardeners they usually never spoke with. For example, a Georgian woman and a Turkish man discovered that they used to be neighbours, since the villages they come from are both situated on the border of Georgia and Turkey.
The board of De Koekelt, who was sceptical about this activity (“do you really think the gardeners will do all this effort of cooking and bringing their own plates?”) was also present and enjoyed the gathering. They had experienced a sense of losing control, but they seemed to realize that gardeners initiative should be stimulated, not constrained. They saw how little organization is needed to bring the gardeners together, and although they initially objected against this activity, they concluded that this should be organized more often
Lise Alix, MSc-student Rural Sociology