Drawing © DGJ Landscapes
Photo © KNAB
Photo © Zeeheldentuin
Photo © Zeeheldentuin
Photo © KNAB
Photo © Zeeheldentuin
Photo © Zeeheldentuin

Zeeheldentuin Community Garden

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The Hague, Netherlands

The Sea-Heroes-Garden is a Community Garden in the Zeeheldenkwartier The Hague. It was initiated by inhabitants and realised by DGJ Landscapes in collaboration with many other volunteers.

At the beginning of 2006 a fire destroyed the Maria-School in the Hague’s Zeehlden quarter. The ruin was bought up by the social housing cooperative HaagWoonen as inexpensive building lot. How ever social housing could not be realised for years and as a result the idea came up to among neighbours to use the empty lot  as a community garden. Children and Parents started to collect signatures and the idea of the Zeeheldentuin was born: It should become a public garden for playing, collaborative gardening of fruit, vegetables and herbs and to celebrate in the community

The mostly volunteer design of the local office DGJ Landscapes followed their neighbour’s interests carefully und out them into a form that should not be sturdy but remain playful. In this way raised planting beds are laid out in a free form to allow children to run around without trampling the vegetable gardens. Organic farming is preferred here and simple and sustainable solutions are important: A water course with hand pump, composting area and many innovative applications of recycling materials and a mobile timber-saw was used on site. Planting in the decorative garden was planned with robust organically grown perennials to serve as a example for other nature based urban gardens.

Self building was encouraged wherever possible  and “Klusdagen” (Do It Yourself Days) with Parents and Children turned in to social happenings. For 48 raised beds for example the garden contractor only drove some poles into the ground. 3 examples where built to chose from in willow-branches, raw planks and used concrete tiles. The neighbours then built their own beds in 2-3 weekends on their own. In a similar way the furniture was built after instructions by the inhabitants who sometimes even signed their work proudly.  

With neighbours and other volunteers DGJ Landscapes with the Zeeheldentuin Foundation structured the process from the ’bottum-up’. Only a lot of initiative and commitment and some strategic refinement could guarantee for high quality at lowest cost. A children’s commission for example contributed to a playground with almost no prefabricated appliances. Instead of a figurative climbing-tower a discarded boat was finally lifted across the fence and restored carefully by committed parents. 

In the opening year Zeeheldentuin received 3 local awards and the European Green Infrastructure Award 2015. It is a great treasure to the inhabitants and the many children. A small miracle was needed alongside with a lot of committment and contributions by neighbours, entrepreneurs, foundations and the city to revise such a garden with lot’s of volunteer work.

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Van Gogh Garden
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Greens Vegetable Garden and Restaurant Westbroekpark
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