Edible Park

A project by the artist British artist Nils Norman as part of the Foodprint Program
Locations: City farm Herweijerhoeve in Zuiderpark, Anna Polakweg 7 and the compound of the Amateur Market Gardener's Association ‘Nut en Genoegen', Meppelweg 882, The Hague
Photo album Edible Park

An artwork that grows and prospers and produces delicious vegetables and fruit is what the English artist Nils Norman conceived for the Hague city farm Herweijerhoeve in the Zuiderpark and for the compound of the Amateur Market Gardener's Association ‘Nut en Genoegen' which is situated close to the city farm on the Meppelweg. For both sites he designed a special vegetable garden based on permaculture and entitled Edible Park.

On the city farm Herweijerhoeve in the Zuiderpark Nils Norman created a garden of about 40 by 20 meters. The centre consists of a special pavilion with a small accommodation where collaborators can repose, a storage space for gardening tolls among other things and neighbourhood dwellers, visitors and schools can get information. Around the pavilion there are a number of installations demonstrating sustainable functions such as a compost toilet, a worm bin and a willow vessel for natural water purification.

On the compound of ‘Nut en Genoegen' a circular permaculture garden has been built on an unused piece of grassland. In the middle of this garden, accessible to everyone, there is a meeting place in the form of a big table with a pergola. In the groves adjoining the permaculture garden an adventurous playground for children will be set up.

In November 2009 the groundwork and the layout of both gardens started. In May 2010 the construction of the pavilion started. On September 22, 2010 Edible Park was officially opened with a symposium and several festivities around the pavillion.

What is permaculture?
Permaculture is a special kind of ecological (vegetable) gardening where different plants, trees and bushes are combined in such a way as to boost each other. A tree provides shadow, some plants attract useful insects while others retain liquid or bring nutritious substances from deeper layers upwards. The garden's compost provides a fertile soil. In permaculture one works with nature instead of fighting it.

With Edible Park Nils Norman wants to explore what gardening could mean for a city like The Hague. Imagine the cabbage lettuce growing on the Schenkstrip in the shelter of the pea which creeps upwards along the corn. What are the advantages if we cultivate public gardens and green areas according to the method of permaculture? Will this offer an interesting and sustainable alternative for the current way of treating green spaces? What will the surplus value be for the residents in the neighbourhood?

If you are available for a few hours (or more) a week and want to learn how permaculture functions in practice, helping in one of both gardens is a pleasant, healthy and nice way to discover this. If you want to receive information about the public activities or enter as a volunteer, contact Eetbaar Park:
T. 070-3569978

Foodprint. Food for the city
Foodprint is an initiative of art and architecture center Stroom Den Haag. The program focuses on the influence food can have on the culture, shape and functioning of the city. Food unites and can build bridges between cultures and generations. Through lectures, workshops, art projects and exhibitions artists, architects and designers show the importance food can have in our everyday life. And also how food can contribute to a healthy, green, liveable and sustainable city.

Friday 22 October 2010
Symposium and official opening Edible Park
(info in Dutch only)

Saturday 23 October 2010
Workshops given by G'Aarde Gezonde Gronden
(info in Dutch only)

Edible Park is made possible by:
Gemeente Den Haag, Natuur- en Milieueducatie, Fonds Burgerschap, Amateurtuindersvereniging Nut en Genoegen, Binder Daktuinen, Stichting DOEN, Fonds 1818, G'Aarde Gezonde Gronden, Ingenieursbureau Den Haag, Mondriaan Stichting, Ontop BV, ORIO architecten, Stimuleringsfonds voor Architectuur.

Foodprint weblog
Fotoalbum Eetbaar Park
website Eetbaar Park
website Nut en Genoegen
website Michel Post ORIO architecten
website Binder Daktuinen

Nils Norman on Permaculture
(info from the Edible Park Symposium)

In collaboration with the local group G'Aarde Gezonde Gronden and Stroom Den Haag the artist Nils Norman has lead a project that aims to develop an experimental platform for The Hague using a community-centric ecological system as an analytical tool. The chosen system to be tested for the project is Permaculture. The project explores the systems' potentialities and limitations through a series of productive garden sites, a large-scale architectural intervention in the form of a low-impact Pavilion and a series of practical workshops and talks.

Like many ecological design systems and beliefs, Permaculture belongs to a centuries old tradition of agrarian based Utopias. Developed in the 1970s and now practiced in communities world-wide, Permaculture has become an important part of the Transition Town movement. It is a system of principles originating from agro-forestry, relying heavily on site analysis and detailed local observation, where each element of a design is carefully analysed and compared in terms of its needs, outputs, and properties. Synergy between design elements is achieved while minimizing waste and the demand for human labour or energy. Exemplary permaculture designs evolve over time, and can become complex mosaics of conventional and inventive cultural and organisational systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input. Techniques and concepts are freely borrowed from organic gardening, agroforestry, sustainable-architecture, renewable energy and the land management systems of indigenous peoples.

Systems like Permaculture, forest gardening, Urban Forestry, Deep Ecology, Transition Towns, Bioregionalism, Eco-communalism and Urban-agriculture are becoming increasingly popular. They are usually regional, small-scale community driven projects that exist outside and sometimes in opposition to official planning codes, regulations and government departments. The Foodprint project and the two chosen sites of the Zuider Park and the Nut en Genoegen allotment garden offer a unique opportunity to implement this experiment to theoretically expand a localised strategy onto a larger urban-wide scale.

The activity program such as the symposium on October 22, 2010 and practical workshops on the sites that are part of Edible Park are designed to explore the possibilities of Permaculture as a viable alternative to conventional city planning, architecture and urban design paradigms. Exploring and testing its utopian character and the contradictions inherent to any proposed localised ecological solution to a global crisis.

The methods and principles advocated by Permaculture can, in part, be seen as similar to those used by contemporary site-specific and politically engaged artists. Norman is highly interested in these genres and his own practice and research are informed and led by a notion of a critical public art. Projects like Edible Park investigate the possibility of creating change or new models within or parallel to the culture of urban planning and city building.

Text: Nils Norman