From working in the Bernoulliborg to working in a community garden (+ video)

Together with 195 other gardeners, UG staff member Marzia Nuzzolo grows her own crops in a community garden in the north of Vinkhuizen. ‘Sometimes we have more than we can eat.’

It was a lucky chance that she and her family found this garden nine years ago, says the research and education officer at the Faculty of Science of Engineering. ‘Although there was a waiting list, we managed to get a plot pretty quickly. I also had a garden in the UK, where I lived before.’

She pays about 90 euros a year for a plot of roughly thirty-six square metres. ‘That’s not much’, she feels. ‘And twice a year, the garden’s owner plows the soil for me.’

Why did she start a vegetable garden? ‘I really like working in nature. There are also social events, like a plant-swapping day and a course on how to make your own compost.’ 

Besides, the garden is an opportunity to meet new people. ‘It is the only place where I’m actually forced to speak Dutch’, Nuzzolo laughs. ‘Some of the older gardeners don’t speak English.’

Kilos of beans

Nuzzolo tries to be at her plot at least eight hours a week. Although she and her family can’t subsist on products from the garden alone, they do pretty well. ‘One year, I harvested fifty kilos of potatoes. And most of the time there are kilos and kilos of beans, and lots of zucchini. More than we can eat.’ 

They share their abundance, she says. ‘We give the beans to our family and friends. And right outside the plot there is a table where you can put anything that’s left over. People can take it from there for free.’

A few years ago, things looked rather different. ‘It was very wet, and snails were eating the zucchini, cabbage, and beans. People did things to kill them, but I didn’t want to. I felt sorry for the snails.’

Video by Rianne Aalbers

Dutch

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