Dubai’s first volunteer-run urban rooftop garden was inaugurated this weekend. The Urban Garden is a Slow Food Dubai initiative, led by Laura Allais-Mare in partnership with Time Hotels Management.
The seeds of the garden were first sown during a chance meeting at a Slow Food Dubai event a couple of years ago, when Time Management’s corporate director of food and beverage, Bernard Fantoli, expressed an interest in sourcing produce from sustainable local sources, and buying organic wherever possible.
As food production and farming have become increasingly industrialised, Fantoli felt that it was important that his young chefs were able to recognise that the essence of good food is good ingredients. In conjunction with Slow Food, Fantoli took his chefs on visits to local farms, and gave them the opportunity to taste local produce in situ. The taste alone convinced them.
The partnership developed and last year an area of the pool terrace at Time Oak Hotel & Suites in Tecom, Dubai was set aside for the cultivation of a food forest, which would act a show garden for the propagation of fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in adherence with international standards for organic produce.
In late summer, the beds were laid and a former aviary was repurposed as a potting shed for seedlings. Since then, a small army of Slow Food Dubai volunteers has watered, dug and planted, to create an edible oasis. Heirloom seeds, organic compost and fertilisers have been used throughout, and today the Urban Garden is living proof that food can be grown and farmed sustainably in the heart of a city.
The garden has brought together individuals from many backgrounds, professions and countries, and as it has developed, it has also attracted birds and bees to the site. A small garden party of thanks was held at the weekend, where locally sourced produce was served and volunteers and other guests were able to stroll around the garden, to view the 50-plus types of plants and vegetables being grown there.
Source: art & life