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L´Horta Community Garden Center | Civic Europe
Environment and sustainability, Social inclusion

L´Horta Community Garden Center

Creating a green community center generating job opportunities for the homeless population and open to local organizations promoting social and environmental awareness


Who is behind this?

Juan Manuel Rodilla

Sant Joan de Déu València


Who is joining forces?

Las Naves, Fundación de la Comunidad Valenciana para la Promoción Estratégica el Desarrollo y la Innovación Urbana




Espai Verd Benicalap


Once the project starts we will involve: Asociación Valenciana de Caridad La Zaïdia Comuna Per l´Horta


Idea pitch

We want to turn a vacant lot into a training and employment center for the homeless population in sustainable farming methods, and a hub of social justice initiatives open to community-based organizations. A space of intergenerational dialogue between people experiencing social exclusion and elderly farmers from the rural area surrounding the city of Valencia, while serving as catalyst for social change though environmental and social advocacy.

Where will your project idea take place?

Horta Nord, comarca in the province of Valencia, Spain.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

We have identified two main challenges:
- Large numbers of people at risk of homelessness (including migrants and youth) experiencing difficulties accessing the labor market. We will promote job opportunities for vulnerable populations by providing training on sustainable agriculture and inter-generational and cultural dialogue with local farmers.
- Disappearance from the adjoining green peri-urban belt of fertile farmland (L'Horta) that surrounds these neighborhoods, one of the 6 left in Europe. L’Horta is a vital ecosystem recognized as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System by the FAO. Unfortunately, 64% of the soil has been destroyed in the last 50 years. We can protect it by encouraging urban-rural linkages and raising awareness of our agricultural heritage.

Who are you doing it for?

- Clients of the homeless center of Sant Joan de Deu Valencia (around 200 per year)
- Elderly farmers cultivating the farmland surrounding the city (around 50)
- Members of the community-based organizations present in Zaïdia and Rascaña who use the space (around 1500 people from 20 organizations)
- Population from the two districts benefiting from the advocacy actions intended to protect the green belt of fertile farmland (100,000 inhabitants)
- People benefiting from the replication of our pilot idea in other districts of Valencia by using the lessons learned materials (3 similar initiatives impacting 4500 people)

How do you plan to get there?

Main activities:
1) Creating a steering committee (SC): composed of homeless shelter clients, community members, and representatives of the city council. The group will be conducted by Sant Joan de Deu staff. The SC will lead the following activities.
2) Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA): development of a rural diagnosis in the farmland surrounding the two districts using PRA:
- Identifying main actors: farmers, land-owners, activists, decision-makers, business owners, vulnerable groups.
- Mapping the main problems of the main actors
- Identifying vacant lots
3) Loan agreement: Negotiating with the municipality the use of one of the vacant lots or empty farmlands identified.
4) Creating the Green Community Center:
- Construction of the facility with recycled and sustainable materials
- Preparation of vegetable gardens
5) Creating a governance structure:
- Creation of a permanent assembly with the representation of all organizations.
- Registration of the assembly as a non-profit organization.
6) Developing sustainable farming training materials:
- Design an educational curriculum
- Acquisition of necessary tools for the workshops
7) Fair: Final event to celebrate and release a making-of documentary of the project.
8) Evaluating results: study the replicability and transference to other districts or cities.
9) Communication of the project

What are the expected results?

A year from now:
1. More than 50 homeless people will be receiving training on sustainable farming and being able to find a jobs in the farmlands surrounding the city.
2. The Green Community Center will be operative and more than 20 local intercultural organizations will use the space sharing an agenda of social and environmental advocacy campaigns.
In less than five years:
3. Community leadership will be increased, and the organizations will be able to negotiate with City Council investments from the municipal annual budget.
4. Our pilot project will be successfully replicated in at least 3 other districts of Valencia.
5. The lessons learned of this experience will be incorporated in the, currently under development, "Urban Development Plan" from the City Council.

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

One of the main problems associated to homelessness is the difficulty to get involved in social and political issues. Besides, the district of Zaidïa and Rascanya do not have platforms to gather and support local initiatives. We will overcome both challenges by creating a space dynamized by homeless shelter clients and serving community action free of use for all local organizations.

A broad range of organizations will be invited maximizing interculturality and fostering intergenerational dialogue: social, environmental, and educational organizations and the municipality will be included. The partner actor Ultramarins154, expert in community action, will use the problems identified during the Participatory Rural Appraisal to trigger debate, and create a shared advocacy action plan.

Why is this idea important to you?

The leadership organization is Sant Joan de Deu Valencia, providing housing and job opportunities to the homeless population in Valencia since 1992.

LAS NAVES is a foundation promoted by València City Council whose aim is to promote urban innovation and will support the project in terms of the definition of the requirements of the pilot project and with the evaluation of the results in order to foster replication and transferability of the project to public policies.

UTM154 has expertise in social mobilization and will bring the lessons learned by creating Espai Verd Benicalap a successful role model of community garden financed by the European Grow Green fund. We will use their successful methodology to engage 12 local organizations sharing a common space.

€ 43000,-

Total budget

€ 34000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Community facilitators: 13.500€
Educational materials: 4.500€
Community activities: 3.000€
Technical assistance: 1.500€
Advocacy efforts: 3.000€
Furniture: 1.500€
Seeds and gardening equipment: 1.000€
Establishment of the vegetable garden: 12.000€
Municipal lot: the economic value will depend on the specific lot
Communication, web page, and short documentary: 3.000€

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Insights from other experiences who have faced similar challenges and how they tackled them; ideas for activities to be developed in the center; contact with similar projects in order to promote a network of green community centers that could share lessons learned or jointly apply for funding





Idea created on April 21, 2021
Last edit on April 25, 2021

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