“Growing” soil at DemoGarden

Located in the formerly-industrial Amsterdam-Noord, DemoGarden is just one of the growing projects created and maintained by UrbaniaHoeve. The organisation explains themselves as a “social design lab for urban agriculture,” experimenting with new techniques for growing within the city context. DemoGarden covers 1500 square metres in the backyard of artist studio space the IJsbrand, though the project wasn’t always growing so fruitfully.

One of the key challenges in establishing the edible forest of DemoGarden in this location was the poor growing medium present at the site. Soils in this area are likely contaminated from past industrial usage, making it unviable to grow edibles from existing soil. UrbaniaHoeve’s solution to this problem was to start from the ground up; the first year of DemoGarden’s existence was dedicated to creating a healthy and nutrient-rich layer of soil. Soil was created using a technique called “hügelkultur“- an ancient technique of layering old logs, sod, plant clippings and soil to create a manmade mound. Plantings on the mound eventually grow roots into the mixture below, which will break down into healthy soil over time! We visited the “hügelbeds” at DemoGarden and the technique has offered a thriving environ for herbs, vegetables, beans and fruits. (More information about this technique is broken down into 13 easy steps here)

Vermiculture is another technique used at DemoGarden to ensure a happy and healthy community (wormbeds shown in the photos below).

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