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Urban farming in Helsinki, Finland

80 recycled industrial sacks growing food in the Kalasatama (Fish Harbor) area. See more photos of the project here.

Grown in Helsinki

By Päivi Raivio

There is a quickly growing number of residents, who want to grow their own food within a short distance of their locality. A tradition of council-managed allotments is still going strong, but new areas for allotments are not being dedicated in the needed pace. A queue of thousands waiting for an allotment is a proof that there is a real need for a greater number of farming plots in the city.

Dodo, an environmental NGO, started a wider movement of “guerilla gardening” by obtaining unused land for growing vegetables near the rail tracks and since then, the phenomena has grown at mounting pace – just as the carrots in our growing boxes.

The pilot project in the district of Pasila was a very basic set up – a pair of large growing boxes on a wasteland next to the rail way track, near the centre of Helsinki. The boxes are built out of old wooden crates and filled with soil donated by the local water and sewage services´s sub-company.  The whole system is very low key, but the harvest was amazingly good – despite the fact that most of us had never done any farming before. The project had a great deal of media coverage and the idea was promoted on a grass root level by giving out locally grown vegetables and seedlings in happenings and festivals with a label “Made in Pasila”. The growing boxes are still in Pasila and keep on producing – some of the herbs are supplied to a Helsinki-based restaurant Juuri and their shop Juuren Puoti, which are a flagship venture for preparing food made of only of Finnish, local, organic or wildly grown ingredients.

It is not only wasteland and unused plots that are a potential allotment substitutes. Dodo´s urban farmers developed a model of a growing box that would easily be installed in the yards of housing blocks, play parks and so forth. Several housing communities wanted to have one and with Dodo´s support and advice, were set up and now taken care of the residents.

One of the uses for urban farming is the temporary use of spaces. This is the case in Kalasatama (Fish Harbor) area – previously the main harbor of Helsinki, now a vast empty space waiting to be built into a new residential area over the next fifteen years. A design agency Part has developed concepts for temporary use and asked Dodo to be a partner. A new urban farm was created with 80 recycled industrial sacks by 36 enthusiastic farmers. Carrots, radishes, salad, herbs, strawberries… “homegrown” and all within a kilometer from the heart of Helsinki.

As the urban farming/knowledge is spreading, people start looking at city space with a new mindset – where can I grow food? Why has that spot of land been empty for years now without any use? Dodo´s latest project, an edible park, started off via a tip from a local resident and is now an allotment for a whole group of people.

See Dodo website here.


1 OS { 12.18.12 at 5:10 pm }

Thank you for this information. I needed it for a project in school.

2 ada { 07.18.13 at 1:40 am }

Does the Urban farming in Helsinki, Finland can send invitation letter to invite someone from other countrys??please contacts us