Sofia, Bulgaria
City population: 1201209
Duration: 2013 – ongoing
Implementation status: Ongoing
Scale: Sub-microscale: Street scale (including buildings)
Project area: 16187.4 m2
Type of area: Previous derelict area, Residental
Last updated: October 2021

A communal bio-garden was created by a group of citizens in Sofia in 2014 on a municipal piece of land. The creation of the garden was supported by the Municipality through their programme “Green Sofia”. The aim of the project was to turn an abandoned and degraded green area into an “island of biodiversity” and a place for urban gardening. The garden contains herbs, vegetables, and flowers, dwelling places for useful insects, and a compost bin. The benefits of the garden have been ecological, educational, and social, including refugee integration. (Ref. 1; Ref. 2; Ref. 3; Ref. 4) According to their Facebook group in 2020, the 4 acre garden and the community that has organised around it is still thriving. (Ref 10)

Community Bio-Garden in Vitosha
Petar Valchovski, retrieved 08/11/2018

Overview

Nature-based solution

  • Parks and urban forests
  • Pocket parks/neighbourhood green spaces
  • Community gardens and allotments
  • Community gardens

Key challenges

  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Environmental quality
  • Soil quality improvement
  • Waste management
  • Inclusive and effective governance (SDG 16)
  • Inclusive governance
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Environmental education
  • Social justice and equity
  • Social cohesion
  • Social interaction
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Enabling physical activity
  • Creation of opportunities for relaxation and recreation
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12)
  • Sustainable production

Focus

Creation of new green areas, Knowledge creation and awareness raising, Other

Project objectives

- Turn an abandoned, degraded urban area into an ecologically sustainable, biologically diverse urban garden - Provide horticultural and ecological education services - Provide a place for recreation - Help bring the community together through socializing - Help locals develop a better connection with nature - Encourage people to take responsibility for creating their own environment - Improve the aesthetics of the area - Encourage the Municipality to support the creation of other similar gardens by demonstrating the effectiveness of the Vitosha bio-garden (Ref. 1; Ref. 5; Ref. 6)

Implementation activities

- One side of the garden is for rest and features flowers, trees, and benches - The other side features orchards, vegetables, seeds, and herbs - Construction waste was cleaned from the area - All elements in the garden have been combined in a way which allows them to support each other and protect each other from pests - Two "Useful Insect Hotels" were added, constructed with the help of children, a beehive, and a compost bin - Permacultural principles were applied in the design, such as forming raised beds which do need digging and minimize the need for irrigation - The level of contamination of the garden produce and water was measured - Only organic materials and natural processes are relied upon to maintain the garden - The local residents take care of the garden - Educational, volunteering, and recreational events have been organised for children, and also for Syrian refugees (Ref. 1; Ref; 2; Ref; 3; Ref; 4; Ref; 5; Ref. 6)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Public sector institution (e.g. school or hospital)
  • Citizens or community groups
  • Marginalized groups: Other
  • Food producers and cultivators (i.e. farmers, gardeners)
  • Other

Governance

Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality
  • Citizens or community group

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Dissemination of information and education
  • Joint implementation (e.g. tree planting)
  • Co-management/Joint management
  • Citizen oversight (e.g. boards, advisory)

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

The creation of the garden was initiated and carried out by local residents. They were supported by the Municipality's programme Green Sofia, which provides support in the form of materials to citizens of the capital for projects which involve planting greenery in public spaces. Educational and volunteering events for school children and Syrian refugees have been organized by the people in charge of the garden. The national food safety agency carried out the measurements which tested the level of contamination of the garden's produce and water. (Ref. 1; Ref. 2; Ref. 3; Ref. 4; Ref. 5; Ref. 7) The bio-garden received a prize in the form of financial support from the contest for green ideas "Do it Yourself", organised by the organisation Za Zemyata (Ref. 3). The project also received financial support through the programme M-tel Eco Grant, run by the mobile carrier Mobiltel (Ref. 1).

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Unknown
... a national policy or strategy? Unknown
... a local policy or strategy? Yes (The creation of the garden was initiated and carried out by local residents but they were supported by the Municipality's programme Green Sofia. (Ref. 1; Ref. 2; Ref. 3; Ref. 4; Ref. 5; Ref. 7))

Financing

Total cost

Unknown

Source(s) of funding

  • Public local authority budget
  • Funds provided by non-governmental organization (NGO)
  • Other

Type of funding

  • Earmarked public budget
  • Donations
  • Other

Non-financial contribution

Type of non-financial contribution
  • Provision of land
  • Provision of goods
  • Provision of labour
Who provided the non-financial contribution?
  • Public authorities (e.g. land, utility services)
  • Citizens (e.g. volunteering)

Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Climate, energy and emissions
  • Reduced emissions
  • Strengthened capacity to address climate hazards/natural disasters
  • Environmental quality
  • Improved waste management
  • Improved soil quality
  • Green space and habitat
  • Promotion of naturalistic styles of landscape design for urban development
  • Increased green space area
  • Increased conservation or restoration of ecosystems
  • Increased conversion of degraded land or soil
  • Increased number of species present
  • Improved prevention or control of invasive alien species
  • Enhanced support of pollination
  • Restoration of derelict areas

Economic impacts

  • Unknown

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Improved social cohesion
  • Fair distribution of social, environmental and economic benefits of the NBS project
  • Increased visibility and opportunity for marginalised groups or indigenous peoples
  • Increased opportunities for social interaction
  • Increased involvement of locals in the management of green spaces
  • Increased access to healthy/affordable food
  • Increased sustainability of agriculture practices
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Cultural heritage and sense of place
  • Promotion of cultural diversity
  • Improvement in people’s connection to nature
  • Increased sense of place identity, memory and belonging
  • Increased appreciation for natural spaces
  • Education
  • Increased support for education and scientific research
  • Increased knowledge of locals about local nature
  • Increased awareness of NBS and their benefits
  • Other

Type of reported impacts

Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system

Unknown

Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No evidence in public records

References