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Pacha: Public Space Greenery for nurturing our Community
By Learning Landscapes Team , Peru
According to the Andean tradition, “Pacha-mama” means “ Mother Earth” who sustains everything that has life on it. In a similar way, our community orchard, “Pacha”, aims to explore the kindness that earth provides not just by planting vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs; but also by reassessing the neighbors’ hard work, and sharing the joy of watching the results of a common effort. This is our second Learning Landscape!
This time, we are working in “Príncipe de Asturias” neighborhood, a proactive community located in “Villa El Salvador” district whose inhabitants have worked in order to improve their surroundings through self-construction processes and organization since 1988. The current generation's commitment is to give leisure and greener public spaces for the neighborhood, in this matter, the Learning Landscapes Team designed a masterplan for their central park, and PACHA orchard is meant to be the first small green hearth that impulses all the following actions in the rest of the spaces in the future.
The project has recovered 315 m2 of a wilderness area as a space for greenery learning. The vegetation proposal includes ornamental trees, fruit trees and 8 herbal areas with orchard boxes within them. The species were selected in accordance with the Peruvian coast landscape, considering low-water consumption species while reassessing knowledge of this region’ species.
Our team methodology changed during the covid 19 pandemic, so the "Learning Landscape" experience goes further than the physical intervention and includes a virtual phase: graphic aid content for environmental education topics. The topics were selected in accordance with the community’s interest, introducing topics such as learning with nature, participatory processes, and conviviality. The content should properly reflect the bond between the built project and the benefits this space can bring to enhance community relationships. Therefore, it is our team's job to represent the content in sets of informational images meant to be shared via WhatsApp with the community.
To keep all of our content permanently available, the content is also published on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Here is a guideline of our content per month:
- JUNE: We talked about “The Community history and identity”, acontent to get to know the neighborhood origins and their founding members.
- JULY: We are sharing the "Learning public spaces for everyone" content, talking about how the design of the components of public spaces contributes to creating a friendlier environment for all community members.
- AUGUST: We plan to share the content “Nature in our new park”. To learn about the species selection concordance with Peruvian coast landscape.
- SEPTEMBER: We’ll be talking about the Learning Landscape itself: “Our Community orchard”, to give a closer look at the constructed project.
PROJECT PROGRESS UNTIL NOW
During these months, our team relationship with the community leaders has become stronger and we have been working together in order to reach the goals in the constructed project and for the diffusion of the virtual one. Currently, we are in constant contact with 8 community leaders and 27 neighbors through a WhatsApp group to keep in touch and comment about the project and the upcoming work. We are very glad about this result. It is important to mention that our team has distributed the work in this project in four teams in order to meet the demands of the complexity of designing a public space that will impact the daily routine of a medium local community. Here is a short view of the progress of each one:
The virtual project started the first week of June and, so far, we have published 6 out of 16 contents, shared about the fieldwork advance, workshops, and activities with other partners. The neighbors of Príncipe de Asturias also have a Facebook page where they share our content and promote participation in the Sunday ‘faenas’ (fieldwork duties).
As a closure for the first unit, we made a video Interview to seven founding neighbors, they shared ideas about their identity, values as a community, and their process of turning this place into a home: https://fb.watch/6X-fwG5R6L/
The humanities team has participated as mediators between the community and the team members in the following activities:
- Seven virtual sessions for enriching and validating the project.
-Conducting interviews with the founding members.
-‘Knitting knowledge’ (6 sessions) Community conversation sessions with Conscious Lima.
-In-field construction duties.
Through this participative process, the team identified that the neighbors' initiative for transforming their space has grown: members of the community shared the accomplishments they forged working cooperatively and relentlessly, they were motivated by the chance of having a space in which they could express the burdens they had to deal with in the early years.
Additionally, it's worth mentioning that thanks to the last working journeys in the park, now the new generations of neighbors found a new space for getting to know each other and interacting while working communally.
The team collected information about the local ecosystem in order to be able to project it in the landscape design. The choice of plants considered the warm - temperate climate with little rain, that was added the diversity of use (medicinal, ornamental) for choosing plants that have a certain resistance to lack of water such as lavender and statice, and native plants, mainly trees, such as molle and huaranguay.
The first environment workshop was possible thanks to Lima Metropolitan City Hall as an ally organization, in the ‘Home orchards Workshop’ the neighbors brought containers for learning how to cultivate vegetables. Since some Learning Landscape members also joined this workshop, the next objective is to replicate this experience with other neighbors in the upcoming future.
During the last 3 months, our team has organized 12 fieldwork journeys maintaining all the safety regulations. Due to the covid 19 and the distant location of Villa El Salvador, each journey had 2 to 7 volunteers per day to avoid possible agglomerations, and we held a distanced fieldwork with biosecurity measures and a greater connection with the neighbors in person.
We want to thank the community leaders Gaby, Tere, Jaime, Marcos, and Margot, who have constantly supported us. Every working journey took place with at least 1 leader supporting us with coordination and facilitating tools for the work, as well as taking care of our tools in their houses so we don't have to bring them with us every week and they have shown us commitment and gratitude, sometimes they even invite us to have something to drink or eat. We would like to mention some of the most active volunteers Charo, Abela, Juan Pablo, and Carlos and his family.
Here is a short description of the actions in field-work which started on May 28th:
- 1st stage: Some materials were selected for recycling and the orchard area was cleaned. Thanks to the community leaders' initiative, the Villa El Salvador City Hall cooperated with us by removing the waste from the rest of the park too during 3 journeys so the impact of the first action became bigger than we expected.
-2nd-3rd stage: We defined on-site the location of the entrances, demolished a damaged slab, leveled the ground, and defined the border of the orchards, furniture, and the perimeter fence.
-4th stage: Currently we are coordinating the buy of the materials, and we are building a contention wall for the elevated orchard.
This whole work is made in cooperation with the neighbors.
Up: One of the first visits to the park.
Down: Progress until now. The work in the park has expanded further than the orchard itself to the rest of the park.
Our work was promoted thanks to our participation in diffusion events with ally collectives ArquiTeam and Iniciativa Libre, and we participated in the Environment Initiatives Festival “Musuq Wayra” organized by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
During all this process, the joy and initiative of the neighbors have motivated us a lot while joining efforts working together. We plan to conduct the work journeys 2-3 times per month on the weekends. Organizing the construction journeys in the park is a constant challenge so this more spaced schedule allows us to detail our action plan before meeting the neighbors. The next stage in the project would be building and implementing the fence so we can plant the trees soon. The current vegetal catalog has 48 species among shading trees, fruit trees, shrubbery, cactaceae, ground covers, and other species; so another pending step is the visit to the plant nursery.
For the virtual project, there are still 2 more units to come.
We organized our first co-creation workshop for the neighbors and even though they were really excited about the idea, we didn't receive many works. This could be because many neighbors are full-time workers, hence, this kind of activity which used to work great with school children is difficult to fit into their schedule. At this moment, our team has identified this difficulty and is seeking alternatives for the workshop. Since the ‘Home Orchard’ workshop worked really well, we’re considering planning similar activities in the future, so the community can join them in the park.
Moreover, we have contacted the kindergarten principal, who is interested in participating with the children in the new communal orchard activities. We think this can be a great opportunity for creating concern links and responsibility between children and the green space.
We invite you to look forward to it and to our construction process on our Facebook Page!
Feel free to follow our process in our Instagram account!