I´ve been dreaming of having green fingers. I should have been born with them really, growing up on a farm, and possessing a mother who is never happier than when elbow deep in flower beds or tending her tomatoes. But somehow with my escape to the big smoke in my twenties, that horticultural knowledge simply passed me by, but of late after a series of brushes with the ´good life´ on a number of different farms boasting abundant vegetable patches, a deep yearning has gradually been building up inside me.
In the UK if you´re in the heart of the city and you want to grow your own veg, there´s the option of signing up to an allotment, but what about Sevilla? Well there´s something here too for the frustrated horticulturalist, in the form of regally named ´El Huerto del Rey Moro´ (the vegetable garden of the Moorish King).
Pertaining to the 15th century house of the same name which was declared of cultural interest in 2001, the ‘huerto’ itself was in a state of total abandonment for over 5 centuries, until in 2004 local residents took matters into their own hands and reclaimed the 5000m 2 area in order to self manage it to feed the needs of the local community.
The initial function of this green urban area was to provide local school children with a space to learn about horticulture, and under the direction of an assembly known as ‘la Noria’ (waterwheel) it was eventually decided to open the area up to adults as well. And over the last 9 years a strong and loyal community has grown around this tranquil piece of heaven, which is lined with a patchwork quilt of vegetable beds that seamlessly run into each other. Its importance as a place for children to learn and express themselves is very much present in the form a series of extraordinary constructions fashioned out of the earth, perfect for playing on and looking straight out of hobbit land.
I was there yesterday to enjoy one of their regular ‘comida populares’, where in a makeshift kitchen delicious organic dishes were served up at affordable prices, using ingredients fresh from the garden. It felt like a giant feel-good picnic, with kids, dogs, hippies, grannies and occasional guiris like myself, hanging out under a shady collection of ancient trees. This was just one of a series of events which include open air cinema in the summer, regular workshops on all things green fingered, and Monday morning communal bread baking sessions (which explains the impressive oven I encountered at the entrance).
Yet again, El Huerto del Rey Moro is another example of the strength of community life in Sevilla. It gladdens my heart that in an age where the individual eeks out their life in isolation from those around them, Sevilla’s sense of community and coming together for the greater good is stronger than ever. I may be over-egging the pudding in suggesting that this is happening right across the city, but I feel privileged to be living in one of the barrios where people care passionately both about the environment that surrounds them and the people that live in it.
El Huerto del Rey Moro, Calle Enladrillada email@example.com