All across Greece, municipalities have allotted land to local citizens with the purpose of increasing food security for the underprivileged, educating the younger generation, and providing their citizens with a retreat from city life.
With Greece facing challenging times, many people nowadays find it increasingly difficult to have access to fresh produce. That is why, for now, only low-income or large families and the retired with very low pensions, are eligible to cultivate their own plots of land in Greek municipal gardens.
According to Greek media, families that take part in municipal garden programs can save up to 150 euros (or almost $200) a year by planting crops that are available year-round. Municipalities provide families with all of the necessary services needed to support a flourishing garden, such as special soil, expert gardening advice, as well as a direct water line and reservoir.
The Marousi Example
Situated on the corner of Adronikou and Kyrillou street, the municipal garden of Marousi is a break from the hectic city life of Athens. If one compares the garden of Marousi in its current state to how it was before it was cultivated, they would find a striking difference.
Previously, the area was filled with old tires, metal, and trash – it was a place where one passed by in a rush, not glancing once. Now the tiny crops of the 2.5-acre garden have brightened up the quiet neighborhood, reforming its previous gritty state. Most importantly thought, the garden is a direct source of food for 40 underprivileged families of Marousi that cultivate have their own plots of land.
School gardens are also sprouting up in many primary schools all throughout Greece. The primary schools in Marousi have even received plants and seeds from the Botanical Gardens of the University of Athens. Through the school programs, young students not only learn how to grow produce, but they also gain a sense of accomplishment by seeing their crops flourish. Ultimately, school gardens donate their produce to their school or local community.
Gardens as a Companion
The city of Drama takes a different approach to the philosophy of the municipal garden by reaching out to senior citizens. Twelve acres of land that were donated to the municipality are there not just to help feed underprivileged families; the large garden constitutes a haven of peace and quiet for senior citizens, some of who pitch in and help underprivileged families grow their produce. While for some, the gardens are a source of food, for others, they can be a way to promote their emotional well being as well.
The Garden Movement
Today, municipal and school gardens established throughout Greece are benefiting people of all ages. They play an increasingly humanitarian and educational role and, at the same time, make local communities more sightly. For all these reasons, municipal gardens seem to be catching on and one can hope that more green plots of land will take over Greek cities in the future.