From Detroit to Havana, from Madrid to Tokyo, people are increasingly engaging in urban gardening and in the pursuit of – wherever it is democratically feasible – regain some of the autonomy of their local communities.
Umea – a town of around 80 000 people in northern Sweden – is no exception, and there are several initiatives in the various districts of the town to grow food, though those engaged still are a minority of the population. Alidhem, a large district in the southern part of Umea is one of the most diverse areas, with a large population of students, immigrants, families and elderly, and has arguably the largest group in Umea engaged in urban gardening. This group has also for years been formally allowed by the municipal local government to grow food in a park in the north-eastern part of Alidhem. In 2016, food was grown in several dozen of wooden boxes in that park (which is covered by pavement and stones).
One obvious challenge with urban gardening in the sub-arctic climate of northern Sweden is that the growing season is short, and that the winter is long, dark and cold. Thus, the ability of urban gardening to move from a pastime to a movement is hampered by the climatic conditions of the region.
That was one of the primary reasons why we decided to help them get a biodome.
The Logdea Biodome Project
In 2013-2014, as most of you who are familiar with the EOS know, we contributed our efforts together with a group of youths organised in the local movement of Green Free Will, to help erect a biodome (seen on the image here) in the village of Logdea outside of the small town of Nordmaling. The dome is 6x3 metres in size, and has the capability of producing 125 kilograms of vegetables.
Originally, it was meant that the Logdea biodome should contain a self-regulated aquaponics system reliant on computer programmes, but the trouble in acquiring support for the second and third parts of the project brought it to a standstill. Since the dome was on the property of the mother of one of the project leaders, and would – in its unfinished state – just serve to take up space. So it was disassembled and put inside a safehouse, an event which much disheartened everyone involved…
Until today that is.
Together with the urban gardeners of Umea, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability – which is the legal owner of the Logdea biodome – has decided to transport the dome to Alidhem and erect it as the crown jewel of the community garden which is gradually being assembled in that park. The Dome will, when finished, be the until now largest structure of the park, and will serve to make the growing season longer.
The first step (after receiving the construction permit) is to raise a platform upon which the dome can be built, for several reasons, but primarily to we can make the structure more accessible to those bound to wheelchairs and other types of mobility aids. This structure will be 70 centimetres tall and after thoughtful deliberation it looks like we are going to make it from car tires.
Luckily for our endeavour, Sweden has instituted a law that states that it is compulsory to change from winter to summer tires during the spring. Thus, discarded tires can be found in abundance, and the only technical challenge was to transport them from the containers we found them in (thanks Däckia btw!) to “Base Area One”. During two days of hard labour, we managed to move nearly a hundred tires, not exactly a Herculean feat or something which can be compared to the construction of Stonehenge, but fun it was!
This project is seeing a growing interest, since it shows that it is possible to create marvellous pieces of environmentally sustainable architecture without having to use that much money, as long as the local community remains engaged and committed towards pooling its resources together.
At this moment, the permit process has moved from the agency responsible for handling out construction permits, towards the Parks and Recreation department of the municipality. On the 19th of May, the democratic process of input from those living nearby the site will be finished. Hopefully, we will be able to start construction at the end of May (or earlier).
It certainly looks like Alidhem, and the Dome, has a bright future!
If you want to support
If you want to support this project, you can donate money to our paypal at [email protected]. Don’t forget to mark the donation with “DOME”.