Garden of the month: Community gardens of Can Masdeu, Barcelona

Laura Ciudad, one of the gardeners, tells us about the gardens.

Can Masdeu is a squat residence, social center and community garden in the Collserola Park on the outskirts of Barcelona, which started in December 2001. Before that, the building was a leper hospital which had been abandoned for some 50 years.

Can Masdeu has some of the largest community gardens in Barcelona. The land is divided into three parts:

In the first part there are plots cultivated by the residents. Once a week, these plots are open to anyone who wants to learn how to cultivate.

The second part is a plot used with groups of school children taking part in our environmental education program.

Last but not least, the community gardens.

The project has been running since November 2002 when squatters made a proposal to share the squat-land. I have been part of these gardens for the last two years. People are mostly from the nearby neighborhood Nou Barris. We are almost 80 persons. The land is divided into around 32 plots with different sizes. Some plots are individual, others are shared.

We organize ourselves through monthly assemblies and through several Committees; some are responsible for organizing collective work and some for managing water, manure, social events, parties, and we want to create one for conflicts. We continue to rely on a non-hierarchical, consensus-based organization model.

Sometimes, as community gardens, we also participate in activities with the social center of the house. Every Sunday between 100 and 300 people come to Can Masdeu to participate in activities related to ecology, activism, and self-sufficiency. These workshops are public, free, and extremely diverse.

To sum it up, the community garden project has become one of the key public focuses of the house. The project has 4 basic aims:

  • To cultivate organic food and sow traditional seed.

  • The exchange of knowledge between generations. There is a symbiotic relationship between young and old people. This has created a constant two-way exchange of information between generations, realities, and mindsets.

  • Our organized decision-making tool is our monthly assembly and

  • To share responsibilities through Committees, such as water (very important during 3 summer months), manure (going to farms or riding clubs to collect), land ( to manage the waiting list and ensuring nobody makes their plot bigger), social events (carnivals or organizing meals after a communal work day, making paellas etc) and economy (every plot pays one Euro per month, or organizing events to raise funding)

    And to end up, some testimonies:

Can Masdeu_Horts“ Everybody told me I am mad but the doctor keeps telling me to come to the plot. Coming here is a therapy for me” Carmen 83 years from the south.

“We are a very nice group of people, very heterogeneous, an explosive mix in the same project” Belen 25 year engineer, Consummer Co-op plot

“Instead of being in a bar playing cards, I prefer to walk and do physical work, here I feel better” Jose 75, Granada

“I like to feel the soil on my fingers, like when I was a child. Here headaches disappear “ Candela 73, from Canary Island

“I believe working in the plots helps to connect with the Earth and overcome the frenetic speed of the cities. I also eat nice organic food” Isabel, school teacher, 57

“I came here because I felt sorry for the guys protesting against the police during the squatting time”. I thought “how can this be possible”? So I came here next day to ask for a plot” Pablo, 75 retired

and many other voices are waiting for you to visit us….