November 22, 2011 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
A travelling edible garden in Rome called Orto Errante (which in Italian means Wandering Garden) made its way for about 2.5 miles (4 km) last weekend from Santa Croce in Gerusalemme to the the city’s Occupy Rome tents at a spot near the ancient Baths of Caracalla.
Rome may not have been built in a day, but Orto Errante was built in an afternoon. In the caring hands of a group of Roman community gardeners, guerrilla gardening groups, various associations and citizens, Orto Errante was constructed from painted recycled wooden market boxes and hemp bags filled with soil and plants supplied by various Roman gardeners.
Members of Occupy Rome asked Zappata Romana, a local group that leads community greening initiatives, to construct an edible garden near their tents in the square of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Zappata Romana called on the gardeners who maintain many of city’s community gardens and the response was surprising–more than 20 groups joined in.
For Orto Errante’s creators, the travelling garden’s purpose was less about growing food than it was about growing a movement. The garden was intended as a symbolic statement from the urban community, signifying the importance of land and nature, but was also in support of the greater Occupy movement, which the gardeners felt did not always “have a positive image from the media.”
About Zappata Romana
The group, Zapata Romana, which mapped more than 70 community gardens and guerrilla spot gardens in Rome, ”investigates community and edible gardens in as a collective action for urban public space appropriation and development of environmental, economic, social innovative issues.” They consider themselves a group of “simple citizens” fighting urban sprawl with their gardens. The collective includes individuals from a social center for disabled people, some guerrilla gardeners who have appropriated a number of abandoned neighborhood public lots, and some unemployed individuals who work together on a garden projects, and “much, much more.”