Amsterdam University College (AUC) Garden Update!

Here’s a guest post from Amsterdam…..

Last year my dear friend Keally asked me to write a guest post for this blog about the student garden that I am organizing. Since then, the garden has grown a lot, so it’s time for an update.

Becoming an official student project

From having a few carrots and beetroots as a try-out last year to becoming a student committee of the Amsterdam University College Student Association, the garden has come a long way. This allowed us to apply for some budget for seeds, tools and other materials. The first investment was 3 square meters of black soil to make garden beds on top of the sand in the courtyard behind our student dorms.


hoop house

Black soil

In February, we carried many wheelbarrows of soil to get the soil from the street (where it was delivered by truck) to the garden beds. Later, we built two improvised greenhouses for the tomatoes, kohlrabi and flava beans. We are now growing peas, cucumber, zucchini, summer purslane, carrots, and spinach. Apart from plants, five chickens joined our project to happily eat all the weeds from the garden in addition to our food scraps, and provide us with locally laid eggs.


Chicken Coop

Dividing the tasks

There is a core group of five students who are most active in the garden, and almost every week we organize a work-in-the-garden-day and anyone is welcome to come and help. We have a watering schedule with a different person watering every day.


Taste the Garden

Lately, we organized a garden dinner, sharing our first harvest of lettuce and chard. In Late June, we will have a Taste the Garden day, which is an open day for students of the university college. We will share the harvest before going on summer vacation, and maybe eat the oldest of our chickens. Sometimes we make small bonfires and make tea of the wild mint that is growing everywhere.

The Lettuce

Learning about food

The most inspiring moments are those when working in the garden makes us think about how our food grows. For example, it took some discussion to figure out whether broad beans flower before they make pods, and whether it makes a difference to eat fertilized or non-fertilized chicken eggs. Beginning gardeners and urban dwellers as we are, this little project teaches us what we never wondered about food before. Even people who aren’t into getting their own hands dirty often ask us gardeners about the progress in the garden, or come by, and they are really interested. Moreover, there are people who join the gardening after taking courses in development and economics, because they suddenly see the potential value of small scale and local food production, and we have to start somewhere, right?


Global network

Connecting urban food projects all around the world, the website allows anyone to register your urban gardening project. Some students from Denmark working on a Master’s thesis on urban agriculture and community building approached us for an interview next week. Find our project here:

Love from Amsterdam!


The Gardener




2 responses to this post.

  1. Nice post and beautiful photographs.
    Canadian Organic Growers started a schoolyard garden program that turned into a Youth Farm Apprenticeship summer camp as well.
    I am an artist/researcher/gardener with my own small ‘plot’ at a local city studios. I have used books to build a container garden – containing a traditional iroquois garden of corn, beans and squash.


  2. Posted by Ines on July 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for your comment. Nice to see your website too, yes I’ve heard of the corn-bean-squash companions. Looks very nice and colourful on your pictures.
    Greetings from Amsterdam,


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