In Slovakia, the project of natural gardens appeared in 2015, following its success in neighbouring Austria and the Czech Republic. Its aim is to support the sustainable care of gardens, respecting natural processes and biodiversity, following the same ideals as sustainable organic farming and permaculture. It also aims to restore traditional ways of farming, prirodnazahrada.eu informed. The project is realised by the Centre of Environmental Activities in Trenčín.
A natural garden has to gain a certificate, with criteria such as not using pesticides. The gardens can be publicly accessible or belong to private citizens. One natural garden is in Trenčín near the Spojená internátna school.
“Teachers can use the gardens to enhance their lessons. Children can also spend time in the garden during extracurricular activities when a teacher is on duty.,” said Katarína Olišová, the coordinator of the project Green School for The Slovak Spectator.
The garden is divided into two parts – one part with fruit trees, berry bushes, plants from meadows and a small lake, the other part structured as a place for pupils to learn how to grow vegetables, herbs or flowers. The garden has its own source of water but rain-water is also used. Compost is part of the garden too.
“We’ve been working on our garden since 2008 and our school was awarded with the international certificate Green School,” mentioned Olišová.
In 2008 the Arboretum was also built, part of the relaxing-educating zone in the garden. The Arboretum is made with both deciduous and coniferous trees, herbs, a “sensational” path with different materials to step on, and a feeder and nesting box for birds.
Public visitors are rare but possible, according to Olišová. The visitors to the garden are usually kids from nursery schools or students of architecture schools.
“One man read about our garden in a newspaper, came to visit us and gave us a ginkgo tree. We planted it together with pupils,” Olišová reminisced.
Public visitors usually visit during days dedicated to presenting the garden to the public, and ‘open garden.’ Garden tours are also available in English.
The Spectator College is a programme designed to support the study and teaching of English in Slovakia, as well as to inspire interest in important public issues among young people. The project was created by The Slovak Spectator in cooperation with their exclusive partner – the Leaf Academy.