Zagreb prioritizes citizen well-being with nature-based solutions
10 May 2021
Zagreb, proGIreg’s front-runner city, did not have it easy in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic and two earthquakes – one in Zagreb in March, with a magnitude of 5.3, and another in December, 50 km to the south, with 6.4 magnitude - testing the limits of response capacity. Now the city is looking towards a brighter future by implementing innovative nature-based solutions (NBS) to improve well-being of citizens, with a new therapeutic garden opening on May 10th!
The city had existing plans to expand the existing network of urban gardens with a new therapeutic garden in 2020, which were put on hold due to financial duress caused by the pandemic and earthquake. The city instead came to the decision to implement a new, holistic therapeutic garden and a mini urban farm in the proGIreg Sesvete Living Lab. Both planning processes have involved citizens to ensure that these solutions cater to current needs.
What is a therapeutic garden? It is space that improves well-being by providing accessible and serene spaces for socialisation and contemplation. Such gardens include diverse plant species and are tailored for varied users. The plans in Sesvete entail involving and making the garden accessible for people living nearby that have disabilities. The park is designed with the help of local institutions catering for people with various disabilities, including ‘Little Home’ day-care centre that hosts a variety of therapeutic and interactive activities for disabled children. The children will be involved in learning activities by planting herbs, making natural cosmetics, and ‘making money’ by also selling some of the produce. The idea is to help visitors to the garden to observe nature with all senses, by various activities such as games and art classes with nature taking centre stage. The idea behind the Sesvete garden is to motivate families that have members with disabilities to engage in activities, increase interaction between those with- and without disabilities, integrating marginalized people into the local community, educate people and last but not least have fun!
The mini farm will be set up next to the therapeutic garden, and it will include a custom made container structure, retrofitted with a green roof, green wall and solar panel. The greenery will help protect the container from overheating. In the container will be an aquaponics hub and a plant incubator.
Photo: Constructing the therapeutic garden, City of Zagreb
The therapeutic garden and the mini urban farm will provide the previously abandoned site with new life, especially for marginalized groups, and the educational aspect of the farm will bring local citizens and students of Zagreb schools and universities to the planned events and introduce them to urban gardening and nature-based solutions as tools for a healthier and more satisfying life in the urban environment.
The mini farm will be implemented before the summer 2021, and it will be placed next to the therapeutic garden, in order to attract visitors from all over Zagreb. In the later phase of the proGIreg project, the mobile components of the mini farm can be moved to a local high school, surrounded by elementary schools and parks, to garner more attention and enhance learning opportunities. The mini-farm will provide seedlings of autochthonous vegetables and fruits to citizens and organise workshops to teach citizens contemporary urban gardening and farming practices, to spread the seeds innovative of nature-based solutions far and wide.
Top photo: Ante Gudelj, Unsplash