We were so happy to feature Anne-Marthe who presented her project titled, Greenspace Initiative at the Ila Asylum Center, at our event on April 2nd!  Greenspace Initiative was a co-winner at the event!  Read more about the project below:

Project Description

When refugees arrive in a new country for resettlement, they face many challenges. These challenges include adjusting to a new way of life (e.g. new types of homes and neighborhoods, different civic cultures, rules and expectations). Additionally, refugees may have been separated from their friends, family and social networks, which can lead to experiences of loneliness and isolation.

By participating in gardening, refugees are able to become active members of society and make social connections within their new community. These gardens transform reception centers into sacred spaces and become special homes, learning environments, and workspaces. During gardening activities, refugees can share stories, release stress, and learn and practice skills. This will enhance their physical and emotional wellbeing that serves as the foundation of a healthy and socially sustainable community.

On average refugees will wait approximately eleven months before they are eligible to work in Norway therefore it is essential that refugees have a safe space for social integration and one that creates a sense of belonging to their new environment. The purpose of this project is to start a garden or greenspace in order to provide nutritious food, skills development, and support social development that affects refugees’ integration into Norwegian culture.

The Greenspace Initiative is working group that helps organize gardening projects for refugees and asylum seekers in Norway. Our work focuses on skills development, health, and partnerships. We believe that gardening initiatives generate knowledge sharing and skills beyond agriculture, thus building the capacity of both individuals and communities. This contributes to a healthier and happier life for refugees. This planting season, we are working to establish a garden at the new reception center at Alexander Kiellends plass (Ila). Ila opened its doors in September, 2016 and houses refugees new to Norway from all corners of the globe. It is important to us that this is a community-led project therefore buy-in from refugees is key. So far, we have 14 refugees participating in the project. We have met and begun the design process, including planning for the planting season. Many come from agriculture backgrounds so they are eager to learn about what grows in Norway and eager to get growing. We hope to win money from Oslo soup to start a garden at the Ila reception center.


Why does this idea matter to you and to the city of Oslo?

This project is important to the city of Oslo because it cultivates relationships between individuals, communities, organizations. It is important that refugees feel welcome in Oslo and everyone does their part to think of different pathways to encourage newcomers to become socially engaged in their new environment. We must also bear in mind that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, therefore it is about time we try innovative gender-neutral activities. This project is especially important as we move towards a more sustainable world. How can we constructively integrate urban gardening into daily life, not only for food security purposes, but also for other aspects of health and wellbeing?


How will you use this microfunding?

Our team has discussed possibilities to maximize growth potential in urban gardening. This includes exploring options in a LED-lit greenhouse. Although most of our garden materials will come from donations we still need additional tools to make this urban garden a green oasis for all such as outdoor furniture and planting beds. All microfunding will be used for greenhouse expenses and garden furniture.


What elements of community or sustainability will be addressed with your idea?

Our project addresses integration, inclusion, urban gardening, food security and social wellness.


How do you contact the project? Visit them at Greenspace Initiative at the Ila Asylum Center on Facebook!