The Akwaaba Community Garden has recently been re-named Acceptus Community Garden: BuurT-Tuin Acceptus and is at this time a growing educational and playful place for the surrounding people in the neighbourhood and especially children and families from the refugee centre and the nearby schools Oli fijn and Aventurijn, and Taalcentrum Almere. All are enjoying the use of this garden several days each week. Some of the most active community gardeners have received the Green Pin in honour of the beauty that has been created in and around this forest garden, see also: http://www.oranjefonds.nl/verhaal-buurt-tuin-akwaaba-meer-dan-een-stuk-groen
"A girl with deep brown eyes and a large chocolate milk mustache running through the grass. On her head shines a beautiful tiara of autumn leaves. She softly sings a Dutch song about Mother Nature. It's raining but she laughs.”
This is a beautiful introduction of the article written by the Oranjefonds journalist, which we also shared to emphasize the impact of healing community gardens, during the city makers congress in Rotterdam with an audience of 900 people.
"Think of it as another way of implementing youth work”. Outside in the fresh air, the hands sometimes literally burrowed into the earth, people from the neighbourhood can meet each other in an accessible way.
The gardeners are children, young people and their families who are still relatively new in the area, or migrant families with a multitude of challenges within mainstream society, but also other local people such as Indian Priya Panigrahi: "Despite my PhD in Bio Informatics I could not find a job in the Netherlands, because I did not speak the language. Looking for a bit of social relevance, I decided to come here as a volunteer. Seriously, this is the best choice ever. It gives immense satisfaction to see the children smile again. And in addition, I found a whole new family here!"
The Burundian refugee Thomas Bangurabona found buurT-Tuinen, community gardens more than 'a little distraction': “Some kids just wanted to fight, they were so angry. Due to our projects, where art and nature are skillfully placed at the centre of play and creativity: I really see the children change.This not only gives me a good feeling, but also hope. Because children are the foundation of our society.They are our future.”
Monique Faase, project coordinator of the children's group, said: "A while ago we made a very large ‘dream catcher’ , and we gathered below it all together. After we shared our fears and nightmares, all the little ones spontaneously started to whisper their dreams into it. How beautiful is that?”
More than 60 volunteers were actively involved in more than 350 indoor & outdoor workshops. We worked consistently on this forest garden and updated our knowledge of permaculture. Many different trees and bushes have been planted. We also visited several permaculture projects in the Netherlands in order to further our update our knowledge of plants, adapted to the climate in the Netherlands.
With the help of international students from Aeres Hogeschool we built a large herb spiral and with the help of students from the international school we made a labyrinth in the form of a turtle.
We also did a special permaculture weekend, where we built 3 permaculture “huegel-cultuur” planters so that children in a wheelchair can easily take part in the planting, watering and harvesting activities.
The Acceptus garden hosted several special events every month, but also during normal days, many people enjoy the flowers and shapes in this community garden.
Every Friday we facilitate a special program of nature education for children and their parents, and people come from far afield to take part. For many the archetypal yearlong theme “mother earth” belongs to ancient times and rituals gone by. With much love and care under the guidance of theatre maker Sameena Khan, the children and families from the refugee centre of Almere and their many artistic friends have been able to take aspects of this and mix it with own ideas to create a Mother Earth. and that is relevant to every living being's past, present and future. We would really enjoy sharing these discoveries with you.
Have a look at the video, which we made to remember and share this project with a wider audience:
As you can see in the video, many people from local schools, neighbourhoods, in the vicinity of Almere, Muiderberg, Amsterdam etc joined us on this intimate and interactive journey. Everyone playfully and emotionally participated on this pilgrimage with mother earth and her children.
This experience has tantalized everyone's senses and left a deep impression in the hearts of many. Young and old walked with us through this outdoor experience. Many allowed themselves to be carried through the rich imagination of all the artists, nature lovers, citizens of Almere young and old and citizens of this world who have contributed to this project. Also this theatrical collaboration was honoured with a Green Pin in 2016. Please refer to the article Go Greener Floriade“.
We worked together with the Discus and Living Systems, who are helping us with seeding a lot of young plants in their small greenhouses, which we will transplant in the gardens, as soon as the plants are strong enough to face the elements.
We have also purchased a shipping container in order to organise tools and garden equipment in a more sustainable way.
We learned how to inject wood with mushroom spores, to harvest them for our community kitchens. Neighbours donated strawberry and tomato plants and we were cooking daily for our helpers and visitors.
Young People from the international school Almere & ROC TOP helped to make the turtle labyrinth. Here is a video impression of the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=uEIx_D2rNVg
One of our interns Rutger Smeets, who is a minor in philosophy, world religions and spirituality at the University of Utrecht researched the need for silence and meditation. Almeerder Yanick van Nielen, one of the active volunteers:
"Door veel mensen wordt het bewandelen van een labyrint gezien als een meditatieve oefening. Ondanks de vele wendingen is de bedoeling van een labyrint niet om de weg kwijt te raken, maar juist om de spreekwoordelijke, spirituele, weg te vinden. Door de afbakening van de paden altijd 75cm van elkaar verwijderd te hebben, zodat hier met een rolstoel overheen te rijden is, hopen wij aan de inclusie van Almere bij te dragen." The work continues in the next project year, more 3D elements will be added, and publicity will be made to connect this labyrinth with other labyrinths in Almere and beyond.
The collaboration with the nearby 'Forest of the Unmovables' with respect to remembering our ancestors counts as a yearly highlight. Here you can read how this tradition started:
http://www.almeredezeweek.nl/widgets/2164-nieuws/nieuws/1328550-gevluchtekinderen- herdenken-familie-in-bos-der-onverzettelijken http://www.almeredezeweek.nl/widgets/2164-nieuws/nieuws/1328801-gevluchtekinderen- herdenken-samen-met-almeerders
De Almeerse kleinkunstenaar Caroline in’t Veld en de Syrische muzikant Madhat Quattaf stonden met hun band tijdens de kinderherdenking op het podium. Op uitnodiging van Inspiratie Inc hebben zij een kinderkoor van Syrische kinderen samengesteld om het nieuwe lied for het eerst te zingen. Het vredeslied met de titel 'Deze taal verstaan we allemaal' wordt tweetalig gezongen en heeft maar liefst 3550 viewings from the live stream op facebook and that lead to many other performances, such as this.
We are also named in the press release from the local newspaper Dichtbij.