Warsaw-based Association Zasiej shares their story about unique journey of opening Zasiejówka community garden in Pratulińska Allotment Garden.
Zasiejówka community garden was established in 2020 on one of the unused plots in the Pratulińska Allotment Garden. This is a unique situation, that it is not commonly practised, even if allotment gardens have a lot of unused space, material resources, and the allotment community is open to collaborate with the younger generation of community gardeners. Luckily, we have managed to establish a community garden inside allotments. Let's go back in time and retrace the steps of how it came about.
Since the 19th century, allotments have been a popular form of gardening in Poland. There are over 170 similar colonies in Warsaw, and they were a source of food and recreation for many inhabitants before the II World War and during the communist period. The communal spaces of the gardens often had benches and playgrounds, and the areas served as places for other residents to relax. Partulińska Allotment Garden was established in 1945 on the outskirts of left-bank Warsaw. Due to the dynamic development of the city, over the years it started to be surrounded by newly built blocks of flats, roads and a metro station. In the 1990s, due to the privatisation of public space and vandalism, allotment holders began to lock the gates to their gardens, which have become inaccessible enclaves in the middle of the city. Today, they also face the problem of an unstable spatial status, which threatens their liquidation. As a group of activists and gardeners, we knew this was an issue, also related to the sustainable development of the city, and we started to tackle it.
The establishment of Zasiejówka community garden was preceded by a process of getting to know the community gardeners and the garden management. We gained their trust through several participatory projects organised inside the garden i.e. an international meeting of community gardeners, jointly building a compost box, Women Circle meetings, a seed bank. At the beginning of 2020, the allotment garden committee offered an unused plot of land to Zasiej Association, allowing us to create our community garden there.
The area is made available by the garden management to the Zasiej Association, on a free lease agreement. We have organised ourselves on a voluntary basis. Thanks to the fact that our garden is located within the allotments area we have gained wonderful neighbours (holders of surrounded allotments) with whom we can exchange experience, stories, crops and seeds. In the Allotment House we organise workshops and meetings, and together we make sure space is clean and looked after. Zasiejówka garden isn’t a big place but we try to make the best use of it. On 80 square metres we have a sunny flower bed for wild bees, self-sown fruit trees, boxes for vegetables and herbs, a bed for shade-loving plants, intercropping and a permaculture roller.