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HortaFCUL: a piece of countryside in the middle of the city

At the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (FCUL), 15 years ago, a group of students decided to start a vegetable garden, transforming a bed that was nothing more than a boring lawn. What began as a small agro-ecological space has now become a project that aims to transform other lawns in the faculty, turning them into climate refuges and oases of biodiversity.

António Vaz Pato is one of the "guardians" of HortaFCUL (LPP photo)

In 2009, a group of biology students from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (FCUL) wanted to turn a flowerbed on campus, which was nothing more than an uninteresting lawn, into a living vegetable garden open to all students. He spoke to the faculty's management, who gave the go-ahead - probably thinking that the project wouldn't last until the end of the academic year. Thus, HortaFCUL was born.

After 15 years, the vegetable garden is still alive and serving as a pretext for transforming other beds in the faculty, bringing more greenery, freshness and biodiversity to the campus. More than just a space for agroecology or agroforestry (we'll clarify this term later), the HortaFCUL has also become a space for the academic community to meet and socialize, which has kept the project active, passing it down from generation to generation. António Vaz Pato, 24, is one of the current members of HortaFCUL. He has a degree in Biology and is finishing a master's degree in Ecology. He got to know the project as soon as he arrived at FCUL. At first, he was skeptical, but soon dropped any preconceptions. Today he is one of the Horta's "guardians", i.e. one of the volunteers who actively takes on the maintenance of the space.

This article is part of LPP's print edition. It can be read with a subscription LPP 6 or LPP 12. If you are already a subscriber, do log in.
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