Cultivating a sense of community in AU’s back garden

In the green corner between Fredrik Nielsens Vej and Langelandsgade, opposite Stakladen in Aarhus, a small, international communal garden is germinating.

[Translate to English:] Fælleshaven består af cirka 40 jordlodder hver à 4 kvadratmeter. Til november kommer der også fælles bærbuske i haven. Foto: Maria Randima
[Translate to English:] Initiativtager til fælleshaven Greenshare, Mette Lorentzen, formand for foreningen, Lenore Messick, og medlem Lene Tørtzen Bager inspicerer de nyopgravede jordlodder. Foto: Maria Randima
[Translate to English:] Lenore Messick. Foto: Maria Randima
[Translate to English:] Foto: Maria Randima

The garden has been named Greenshare. While the garden might be small, the vision behind it is anything but. The idea is to give Danes and international staff the chance to meet in the garden and cultivate a sense of community – while also cultivating berries, vegetables and flowers for their own use on the small plots.

Chair of the allotment association is Lenore Messick, who works as coordinator for AU Language Services. The international aspect was what led to her involvement in the project.

"I can relate to how it feels to be new in Denmark, because I’ve been there myself. So I can make a contribution in that context. I also think it’s interesting to get involved in gardening in a new and more open way, compared to a private garden surrounded by a hedge. I’ve got one of those as well, so it’s not because I need something to look after. But this is a chance to meet people, help others get started with gardening and maybe even learn something new myself," she explains.

Everybody is welcome

The idea for the garden was presented at AU's International Club during the spring, which means that Lenore Messick has international company on the steering committee, including a couple of international post-docs. Several of the other members also have connections to AU. But the garden is not solely for AU employees with an international background. It is for everybody.

"We have about forty lots at our disposal in the garden. Each one is four square metres. Fewer than half are still available," says Lenore Messick.

You can rent the plot for a one year period and then cultivate whatever you want. In addition, you undertake to participate actively in the community associated with the garden. Members must be willing to help with communal tasks and events at least a couple of times a year. At the moment the garden is being readied and there is a particular need for members who are willing to help with the practical aspects.  

"We have a very positive view of people who have a car with a tow bar and know how to use a drill," laughs Lenore Messick, though she emphasises that anyone who is interested in joining is welcome to contact the association.

Read more at Greenshare's facebook-site

Translated by Peter Lambourne