Heritage Malta has renewed the allotment agreements for the community garden at the Abbatija tad-Dejr Catacombs in Rabat, following the resounding success of the pilot project carried out during the past year.
These catacombs, well known for their archaeological and historical importance, lie beneath an old public garden that for years was in desperate need of repairs and maintenance. The garden provided a perfect outreach opportunity for Heritage Malta in its constant endeavours to make the sites under its wing more relevant for local communities.
Towards the end of 2019, the garden was therefore split into smaller allotments and an expression of interest was issued for people willing to take care of them. Interested individuals were each given an allotment to use for cultivation of agricultural produce and other plants, entirely for free.
During the past year, the Abbatija tad-Dejr Community Garden has proved to be a huge success. So much so that almost all of the 18 original tenants have renewed their contracts for another two years.
This community garden is a true example of how individuals can be safely involved into community-centred projects through which both parties stand to benefit.
Speaking about her family’s experience as one of the tenants, Ms Charlotte Geronimi said: “My son Luca has always dreamt of having a farm with sheep and horses, but living in an apartment with no garden has obviously made it difficult to grow our own crops. We were lucky to be given a sizeable plot at Abbatija tad-Dejr. What originally started out as an opportunity to get my son closer to nature resulted in a very positive experience for all my family – my parents included.”
Another tenant, Ms Samuela Bossini, said: “Sharing a community garden is a good way for children to learn about where food comes from. Seeing a small seed growing and becoming a plant is a really important experience which teaches them how nature works and how vital our role in this chain is. It is also an introduction to environmental and team work skills. As tenants of the community garden we have also had the opportunity to share our experience with our neighbours and with residents, increasing in this way the sense of ‘community’. Last but not least, the fact that the garden lies on a very important catacomb complex is an opportunity for our children to appreciate history.”