The second week of the Climate-KIC Journey was spent forming teams and choosing a climate challenge to work on. This week we stayed at Nova University campus in Almada which is a district across the river from central Lisbon. For me the highlight was visiting Almada’s urban agriculture project with Nuno Lopes, an environmental planner from the local municipality.
The project was conceived as a nature based solution to multiple climate related risks including flooding, soil erosion and food production as well as being a place to foster community. The area is made up of allotments, fruit trees, compost huts and park benches. It is surrounded by a shallow basin which serves as a water store during flash floods.
The allotments were first allocated based on income and then proximity to the site. The priority being those with the least income such as the elderly and unemployed. All members are encouraged to grow organically and receive training on natural growing strategies. Currently all plots are filled and the waiting list includes over 200 people.
The project has been praised for its role in bringing around 70 families together.
When we visited the site we saw many people- young and old- working on their land. Nuno told us of its special importance for those who are unemployed and the sense of purpose it gives to some people.
One elderly man proudly showed me a bag full of vegetables which he was able to harvest every day during the summer. He told me it is important to take care of what you eat and that he believes he spend less money on medicine as a result of eating his own organic produce.
Besides producing food, urban gardens contribute to climate mitigation and adaption through a range of ecosystem services.
They provide habitat for wildlife, foster biodiversity, contribute to water regulation through unsealed soils and improved air circulation and cooling.