Slovenia: Ljubljana Community Gardens & Seed Swap

On the second day of our stay in Ljubljana PEDAL jumped on bikes with spades and forks and trowels for a working tour of four community gardens in the city. The group organising and looking after these gardens ‘Zadruga Urbana Collective Vrt’ have just started another garden in the autonomous free space Metelkova where together we built a bike fence and a compost system, and began work on a permaculture design for the land.

As we went in the sunshine to build more beds on an community allotment, our new friends explained that the growing spaces are on land set to be developed in to park space. The people who grow here have not gone through a council to gain a small plot but effectively have squatted the land- choosing an area and simply starting to work the land with little or no problem from authorities. This contrasts our restricted growing spaces in the UK where in some parts of London you are put on a 20-30 year waiting list.

It’s a beautiful site to see with neighbours sharing growing advice, tools and we began sharing swapping seeds from the PEDAL Seeds of Solidarity bank. Nearly three hours of sprawling seed packets and bags of Slovinia heritage beans, giggles, lunch, chat and stories it was a brilliant event, so much so we are doing another one tomorrow as more people want to swap seeds.

PEDAL’s seed bank has now gained Zapatista corn from Mexico which one of the activists got at a seed swap in Graz last year and has now passed onto us, Orchra from Turkey, chickpeas from Portugal and many more interesting an exciting varieties… We had lots of chat about drought resistant varieties to take to Palestine, its coming more and more into the seedbanks thought as we more closer to hotter countries where we can find these specific seeds and growing skills.

It’s a wonderful to see how excited people are to hear the stories of where the seeds came from and where they are going to grow them but in a way its sad for those of us who are only the travelling seed carriers, we want to plant and see them grow too! So as the banks getting heavy, today we will make a package of some of these seeds we have gained in the last month from different collective and individuals to send back to our first community of resistance Grow Heathrow and a place some of the PEDAL crew are deeply rooted. It will be a beautiful thing for us to return in autumn and seed those seeds of solidarity materialise into productive plants.

A last thought that came out of our growing activities today was what a beautiful connection between generations food growing can create. As I was walking through the gardens today a old Slovenian woman called me over to her plot, it was clear there was going to be no common language between us but that really didn’t matter, she showed me all her seedlings, plants and tools and we managed to understand each other through just being in a space we are both used to and plot with plants! When leaving we had a big hug and today I will go to deliver some seeds to her.

Language didn’t matter, cultural, generational differences didn’t come into play – there was a common passion for food growing which was shared and that shows how we can transcend cultural divides through common skill and passion.

Some squats in Slovenia:
Groups (social center, collective, squat) in Slovenia:
Events in Slovenia: