La Huerta de Montecarmelo is a Madrid based urban garden that employs people with mental disabilities
Around the world urban farming has turned from a hobby of passionates growing food for themselves to a truly global innovative field. It is a way to make real and scalable solutions in order to make food as local as possible, reducing the food miles that go along with long-distance transportation.
New York is a real urban farming pioneer. Urban gardens have started to be built in the '70. Today there are more than 700 urban gardens in the city. In Spain the phenomenon is more recent and is now spread in all big Spanish cities. In Madrid the urban gardens movement started in 2006.
La Huerta de Montecarmelo, which opened in 2011, is a urban garden located in the North of Madrid, just at the edge of the city. It is made of 146 urban gardens in an area of 6.000 m2 that can be rented by anyone: from young people to families with children, to retired people.
People coming to cultivate at La Huerta are helped by special gardeners, people with mental disabilities whom the project describes as the Personal Keepers. Therefore the project achieves two goals: cultivate a urban garden, making degraded lands around the city workable and help people with mental disorders, employing them.
At the moment it is possible to rent a portion of land of 20 m2 for 85 Euros a month and to cultivate three different types of urban gardens: fruit, traditional, and garden
There is a lot going on at La Huerta: urban farming courses held by the Personal Keepers, a shop selling plants, seeds and books for farming lovers, continuous advice to improve farming skills and much more.
La Huerta is an initiative launched by the Fundación Carmen Pardo-Valcarc, which works for social and work insertion of people with intellectual disabilities in society, and by Obra Social Caja Madrid.
The slogan of the project: “Rus in Urbe”, literally means “Country in the City”, and refers to a policy promoted by the ruling class in ancient Rome to try to solve the same problem that La Huerta tackles.