Environment and sustainability, Community development

Common roots: trees that build community

Participative orchard to promote community cohesion and preserve fruit landraces


Who is behind this?

Laura Aceituno Mata

Asociación La Troje Sierra Norte



Who is joining forces?




AMUMI (Abrazando el MUndo MIgrante-Embracing migrant world)




Idea pitch

Human beings have always gathered around a big tree to sort out how lo live together. We want to create a participative orchard managed by 100 families where all the fruit landraces and social groups in the region will be present. The project will bring together groups that hardly interact despite living in the same village: natives and migrants, people with diverse abilities, young generations and elders. Cultivate a community with a shared aim: growing fruit trees in a public land.

Where will your project idea take place?

La Cabrera, Sierra Norte de Madrid, Spain

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Sierra Norte of Madrid is a rural mountain region which in the last half of XX century has faced a depopulation process due to the rural exodus to Madrid city. This led to the abandonment of local agriculture and the landraces that have been cultivated in the region since long ago. From 1990 until now, there has been a recovery in the population, mainly due to arrival of migrants, both from other countries and urbanites from Madrid, but also because of the return of native migrants after retirement. The population of the villages in the region used to be very homogeneous and based of familiar bonds, and now bigger villages face the challenge of integrating a very diverse population. However, native and migrants hardly interact since there are few spaces where common interests are shared.

Who are you doing it for?

The potential beneficiaries of the project are all the population of the region Sierra Norte of Madrid, with 53.878 inhabitants. The target groups are:
- Families or individuals in risk if social exclusion: migrants with no income and/or no legal residence.
- People with functional diversity: in the region there are around 1000 people with any kind of functional diversity.
- Migrants interested in developping agriculture practices but with no access to land. In 2018, the migrant population in the region Sierra Norte was 12.817, representing the 23, 79% of the total population. Among this group, 7.654 were migrants from other countries.
- Native population, especially elders that could share their tradition with newcomers.

How do you plan to get there?

We will follow the methodology of communitarian development. All the participants in the collaborative orchard will be treated with equity, and will have the same rights and duties in relation with the project. The project will admit 100 participants, being individuals, families or even organizations, and each participant will sign a contract of care of four trees. The organizations leading the project will provide social support to foster the creation of a community and agricultural mentoring to guide the participants in the management of an orchard.
The steps in the creation of the orchard will be:
1) Sign of the agreement
2) Orchard design and launching of the project.
3) Application process
4) Start-up event: tree planting
5) Follow-up events: one community meeting per month.

What are the expected results?

Success will be to have created in one year a community of 100 participants managing a public orchard (extended community of 200-300 participants taking into acoount all family members).
This public space will host mensual communitary events such as the participants assembly, workshops on fruit growing, degustations of landraces, collective meals and ludic activities for all ages.
The partipants will experience being part of a community sharing a common aim and having voice to decide and propose within the assemblies. Most importantly they will have the opportunity to interact with other social groups with whom they might not ever have the chance to talk and share. Experiencing the participation in a diverse and equitable environment empowers citizens to replicate it in other realms.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Creating a public orchard managed in a collaborative way is an opportunity to bring together different social groups and cultivate democracy and citizen responsibility though the concrete aim of growing fruit trees.
The orchard is a laboratory of local society. Each family or individual engaged in the project will be in charge of four fruit trees. The diverse group have to decide how to organize the tasks and each participant has the responsibility of carring them out.
The care of fruit trees requires three main abilities: patience, attention and long-term commitment. The dynamization of the group will focus in the training of these abilities as tools not only to grow an orchard but to build a community and improve social cohesion.

Why is this idea important to you?

La Troje team members are living in the region for more than 20 years. As a result of our activity we have been able to establishing relationships with very different social groups in the region. However, in the last 5 years we have noticed a deepening social distance between natives and migrants. There are no spaces to interact or create a sense of community. But we noticed as well the need among natives of passing on their traditions and the need of migrants to bury their roots in these territory. Another group of population, the people with functional diversity, has shown us that through their lack of prejudices true encounters are made.
With all this social mixture we aim to recover the traditional fruit trees that used to be grown in the region.

€ 60000,-

Total budget

€ 30000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Fruit trees of landraces 4000€
Materials for fruit growing 1000€
Tools 2000€
Technical counselling throughout the year (1 day/week) 5500€
Social dynamization of the community (1 day/week) 5500€
External experts for the mensual events (12 events, 300€per formative session + travel costs 100€) 4800€
Popular meals for the mensual events 7200€
The expenses of preparing the land, watering system and fencing, and building a tool hut will be covered by the local township (30000€).

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Difficulties and potentialities of creating a diverse community managing a common land.
Ideas to start-up a newly created community with a common aim but no previous relationships among individuals.


Laura Aceituno


Zuriñe Iglesias González

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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