By Thanos Theofanakis
–On March 10, fifteen volunteers came together in Anna’s Tuin en Ruigte opposite to the Academic Building to work the land. Among the attendants were volunteers from Nldoet, a Dutch national volunteering network, who helped with organizing the event.
The sun and weather that day motivated the garden enthusiasts and they were eager to get to work. Because business comes before pleasure, the volunteers agreed to an interview after the work was done.
Marleen Feldbrugge, Masters student in Ecology & Evolution at the UvA and coordinator at Anna’s Tuin en Ruigte said, “A few years ago, a group of Tesla minor students at the UvA was given the problem that residents and students of Science Park seemed to always be too busy with their own lives to take a break and get together.” The group of students set out to find a solution to this problem while also improving the biodiversity in Science Park. After having gone through the necessary paperwork, the gardening for Anna’s Tuin en Ruigte could finally begin.
“The project is aimed at becoming three different things: a living lab, a knowledge center, and a meeting point,” Feldbrugge said. The living lab will be a place where scientists and residents can come to learn about alternative forms of agriculture, nature development, and conservation. This knowledge center is a place where people of all ages can come to learn about nature and organize events. The meeting point will serve as a place for residents or other members of Science Park’s community can come together and relax in nature.
Matthijs Beekhoven, a volunteer at Anna’s Tuin, said: “Right now, we are using white mustard, a plant with deep roots, to make the soil more fertile and suitable for growing crops. Among the things we are doing now is laying a pathway, sowing seeds and erecting so-called Hügelbeds, a structure that plays an important role in permaculture.” The Tuin is planned to become a public garden for people to relax and to grow crops as well. The official opening will be on May 20th and the volunteers of Anna’s Tuin en Ruigte are hoping to be able to harvest the ground’s first yield on that day.
The idea also caught the attention of AUC’s dean Murray Pratt, who says he is interested in the project for a number of reasons: “ Not only would it be an environment for recreation and gardening, but the place also has the capability of becoming a therapeutic area. In addition, the biome could create very interesting capstone opportunities.” Pratt said that AUC’s interest in the project is very informal at the moment.