Hügelkultur raised beds at BuurT-Tuin Akwaaba

Last June I started with my first assignment for Inspiratie Inc: making a design for the garden next to the community center Akwaaba. After I did my first workshop about cultivating mushrooms, they asked me to help in the development of the garden. The garden is in a unique location between a school with disabled children, the refugee centre and the community center Akwaaba.

After a client interview I identified the following needs:

  • Because there would be a theatre performance in the garden they needed something that would look nice quickly
  • The garden should be accessible for people in wheelchairs
  • The use of organic shapes is important
  • The garden should have a cultural aspect and have enough room for art and spontaneous activities
  • The talents of the different people that visit Akwaaba should be used in the construction of the garden

I analyzed the site and decided to focus on expanding the area already in use with raised beds. The heavy clay soil is very compacted and gets waterlogged after heavy rain, so I opted for Hügelkultur in order to improve the soil. I asked some of the people that visit Akwaaba regularly to collect rotten logs from the surrounding woods and they delivered big time. Unfortunately due to some cultural misunderstandings it was hard to collect kitchen scraps and other compostables to go on top of the logs, so they are covered in mostly compost. The logs are pretty far along in the rotting process, so incorporating some green manure plants should be enough to account for the nitrogen used up by the rotting wood. In order to make the beds accesible for wheelchair-users they will have stone, concrete and wooden surrounds. This will also stop erosion.

So, here are some pictures of the build process! It was great to work with people of different cultures, people didn't speak each others languages but when you are working with your hands that doesn't matter much. It was especially great to have mason from the refugee center help with the masonry work and an artist to decorate the cement bed.

Working on the wiring

Preparing the concrete

Making the walls

Putting in the wood

Putting in the soil

Plexiglass window The log-bed has a plexiglass window so you can see the rotting process, worms and plant roots

Giving the plants a home

Garden as it is now

In the fall and next spring we will start planting edible polycultures in the beds and in the rest of the garden, for now they are filled with ornamentals, green manure plants like phacelia and herbs. The existing lower beds have been planted with ornamentals, pollinators and herbs for tea. To be continued!

Posted on the 25th of October, 2016