Fort Bema – one of the first community gardens in Waraw, run by an informal group in Bemowo district since 2015.
Fort Bema is a housing estate, which name was taken from the former fortress Warsaw that was situated on the area. It is a lively neighbourhood with a decent piece of green space. This space is not always taken care of properly. Such an observation gave motivation for a group of neighbours to bring order and care to this sometimes wildly and chaotically grown piece of city land. In December 2014 their thoughts became words and turned into discussions, and some months later became deeds and turned into collective cleaning of the space and creating plots for the emerging community garden. Removing rubbish and trimming the long abandoned fruit trees initiated the process of bringing back the charm of the place. After the initiators got to know that the spot had been used as a garden by the soldiers stationing there in the past the idea of creating the community garden in this place seemed even more appropriate. The process of creation of the garden was and still is a very bottom-up one, without any professional garden designer – the initiators has been trusting their own intuition and vision. And welcoming others to contribute with ideas.
And so the garden exists now around 5 years already, being the biggest among community gardens in Warsaw with its 4500m2 of area. The very special part and core of the garden is apple trees orchard.
One finds also vegetables plots made in a permaculture way. The garden is totally open, there are no fences. This is an important feature for the engaged in the garden: they want to stay open, even if this means problems with vandalism. The approach of the organisers of the garden gives also a lot of freedom to the users of the garden. The main rule is to respect others and their work.
There is no source of water, apart from the rain water collecting system on the wooden shed. The gardeners use the water from a nearby moat. It is a hard physical activity, but makes the gardening visible to the park’s passers-by. The shed has been financed by the participatory budget after 4 years of the garden’s existence.
Throughout the year there are several events open for the public: creating the plots in the beginning of the season, common harvest feast in the end of the season and a Kupala Night celebration – a Slavic holiday for the summer solstice.
Garden doesn’t get any permanent financing. There have been periods when it was finances totally by the gardeners. Nor the financing, neither the further existence of the garden is assured – but the gardeners are doing their best to preserve this precious place!