City greenhouse back on track after bad patch

City greenhouse De Oude Beer was not doing well at all. The existence of the social project in Dordrecht was in danger after the announcement of the extension of the nearby A16 highway. Last year they had a break-in and in October a large fire broke out in the greenhouse.

The city greenhouse is situated close to the A16 highway

The fire not only destroyed all the crops, but also all the tools, furniture, administration and the kitchen went up in flames, according to initiator Jan Ligtenberg 

The greenhouse has been rebuilt smaller to take the upcoming extension into account.

The damage of the fire is no longer visible. "In the past week the last panes have been installed. The reconstruction has taken the extension of the highway into account. All that is left to do is writing our name on panes facing the A16, putting us right back on the map."

The back part of the greenhouse is being tiled.

A couple of volunteers is busy tiling a part of the greenhouse. "A kitchen and a small office will be placed here." In another part of the greenhouse fresh green plants tentative show their leaves.

After the fire all crops were removed

A lot of help
The greenhouse has been restored to former glory in three months. "The repairs have cost 1500 euro in total, which we could never raise ourselves. Luckily we have had lots of help. In the past, for example, we traded lots of seeds, and now we spontaneously received seeds in return. Some one else donated tiles he could spare and also the local government supports the project."

Initiator Jan Ligtenberg

Soil testing
"Peppers and tomatoes will be grown here," Jan points out. "Beans grew there before the fire, which have brought nitrogen into the soil. Now we are going to grow leafy crops there. The soil will be tested to see if the fire has not left harmful substances in the soil."

In De Oude Beer the South-American tuberous plant Yacon is being grown. 

The supply is varied. "We have got peach trees and almonds." With pride Jan pulls a Yacon out of the ground. "They do very well in the greenhouse. Yesterday I baked an apple pie with them. Moreover, the price is right at about 4 euro per kilo."

In the greenhouse are only volunteers at work. "We started out with the two of us. Now the team consists of about 15 persons, people with all kinds of different backgrounds: with a past, a burn-out or retirees."

De Oude Beer will be opened to the public in April.

"We will be open again to visitors in the weekend of April 7 and 8. Crops will have regrown by then and everything will be as it was."

For more information:
Stadslandbouwkas 'De Oude Beer'

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