Herligheten is an ecological initiative and project about urban food production initiated in April 2012 and developed during April and May 2012. Herligheten is located at Loallmenningen in Bjørvika, a rocky "island" in the middle of a rough building site surrounded by roads, railway lines and the airing towers for the submerged tunnel underneath.

As of today Herligheten consists of three main parts:
·         Herligheten Allotment Garden with 100 allotments
·         A field measuring 250 m2 where several types of ancient grain such as spelt, emmer, einkorn and bere barley will grow.
·         A program consisting of a number of events and seminars for learning and exchanging ideas.

The level of pollution in the area will be monitored to gain knowledge about the  conditions for urban gardening.

It is Bjørvika Utvikling´s art program that has initiated the project, and it is the landowners and developers that have made it possible through their support.  Herligheten is a temporary low budget project initially planned for 3 seasons.  It was established on the weekend of 11 - 13 May.

Anne Beate Hovind, Project manager Art, Bjørvika Utvikling AS,  

An allotment for free - Apply now
Herligheten offered the use of 100 allotments free of charge. 

The project provides the necessary infrastructure such as pallet collars, garden netting, soil, water and common areas.  You will be given enough pallet collars to make a 5 m2 garden where you can grow whatever you like for as long as the garden exists.  You will be given the opportunity to take part in workshops and lectures on every possible topic from bread baking and keeping chickens to urban farming.  You can exchange seeds, plants and know-how with other fellow gardeners, and last but not least; you will be able to discuss and influence the development of Bjørvika.  In other words; Herligheten is yours.

Herligheten also offers benefits such as a wonderful view towards Hovedøya Island, good sun bathing opportunities, and a new pedestrian crossing providing access to the sea.

Herligheten needs new allotment gardeners.  You must fulfil the following criteria to apply:
·         You must live in Oslo
·         You cannot already have a garden or allotment.

The application deadline was the 8th of May. The offer attracted an overwhelming amount of attention. A total of 3790 people applied. The applicants drawn in the first round were all notified on the 10th of May 2012.

The infrastructure was put in place on Saturday the 12th of May, through a “dugnad” by volunteers, and on Sunday the 13th we started the day with an information meeting with the new allotment gardeners followed by more dugnad. All the ready-stacked pallet collars was lined with a fibrous membrane and filled with soil ready for use.

Follow the project
You can follow the project on Facebook, and you can read this blog.

Herligheten site, Loallmenningen, Bjørvika 
Herligheten is an unused wasteland in the middle of a building site in which eventually the Loallmenningen Common will be located. The Loallmenningen Common is one of seven public green areas in Bjørvika. Its nearest neighbours are the motorway, the submerged tunnel and the large, and very visible airing towers pointing up towards the Ekeberåsen hill. The surface consists of rocks, gravel and concrete and is unsuitable for cultivation.

A temporary project - 3 seasons to begin with
Herligheten Allotment Gardens is a time limited offer.  The current plans for Bjørvika allow the allotments to remain in this site for 3 years. The area we have been given may shrink, grow, move or be reshaped, but the 5000 m2 large area gives us a lot of flexibiity. See marked area in photo below or see Google map link

Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Ecological profile
Herligheten will be run as an ecological allotment. The allotment owners must apply by the rules for ecological gardening; no artificial fertilizers, no pesticides or other toxic substances. Ecological plants and seeds will be used as much as possible, and garden waste will be composted.

It is the Bjørvika Utvikling (BU) Art Project  that has initiated and is the driving force behind Herligheten.  BU is responsible for the development of the public spaces in Bjørvika.  Loallmeningen Common is one of seven such spaces.

BU is also responsible for selecting art for the public spaces. An art strategy and a curatorial vision for this purpose was adopted in August 2008. This strategy states that both permanent and temporary art is important as they serve different functions and purposes.  For this reason BU has already commissioned temporary art and cultural activities in Bjørvika for several years.  BU has initiated and established Kunsthall Oslo.  The program for the permanent art in the commons has been named Slow space.  One of the artists to receive a commission is Amy Franceschini (USA).

Amy and Futurefarmers must be credited for greatly influencing this initiative.  Amy´s art project Victory Gardens about urban food production; turning the square outside the Town Hall in San Francisco into allotments, has been a major inspiration. Her thorough work on the historical connections and particularly her will to involve people in her projects is impressive.  Amy has been commissioned to do a project precisely in the Loallmenningen Common. This time it is about production of ecological grain and flour for baking bread. This is why the field with the ancient types of grain is part of Herligheten. More information about her art project will follow. 

John Fr. Kirchner/Nordahl Grove lith. 1865. Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo Kunstverk 2012
Kunsthall Oslo must also be mentioned for their exhibition “Utsikt fra Ekeberg” (Views from Ekeberg) by science librarian and photo historian at the National Library Harald Østgaard Lund. The exhibition was opened towards the end of march 1012.  One of the photos exhibited was taken in 1884 and showed the wonderfully fertile and farmed areas surrounding the river Lo. Seeing this photo became a trigger event, and things spurred into action. 

It is a fact that the interest for urban food production in Oslo is much higher than the supply of farmable plots. There is up to a 10 years waiting list for an allotment, and this fact was also a contributing factor to the birth of this project.

The time was ripe, and the idea that this rocky wasteland around the much debated airing towers, sometime in the future to be turned into the Loallmenningen Common, could be used now! Temporarily! And so the ball began to roll.

BU´s Art Project is the initiator to this project. In addition, 5 enthusiastic activists with completely unrealistic expectations as to what they can achieve have pushed this project forward.
The project group in this initial phase consists of
·         Anne Beate Hovind (Project leader, Art BU)
·         Vibeke Hermanrud (Project assistant, Art BU)
·         Tone Holmen
·         Kristin von Hirsch
·         Christoffer Olavsson Evju
·         Gunnar Bothner-Bye
·         Anette Flygansvær

Sponsors, supporters and partners
Herligheten is initially a project without funding.  In a very short period of time funds were made available. The project was unexpectedly well received and we have never seen such enthusiasm, good will and speedy action. 

The sponsor list so far:
Statens Vegvesen Region Øst (SVRØ), Sørenga Utvikling AS, Oslo S Utvikling, Hav Eiendom, Bjørvika Infrastruktur AS, Byfabrikken (link), A-lab, Tigerjord fra Oslo Kompost, Bjørbekk&Lindheim Landskapsarkitekter og Caféteateret/Nordic Black Theatre.

A project like this soon finds its supporters and partners. Majobo (Mat og jord der du bor), MAAEMO ecological restaurant, Farmer and ancient grain enthusiast Johan Swärd from Vestre Aschim Farm Mill, Erik Johner from Bioforsk and Etterstad Kolonihager.

Herligheten allotment gardens
Herligheten does not formally exist yet.  The project group mentioned above form an interim board. As soon as all the 100 allotment owners are in place, the allotment garden will be formalized, a board elected and a minimum of rules and regulations established. (On 24th of may 2012)

Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Vegetable production in polluted areas
Is it safe to eat vegetables produced in a polluted area? We think so. To start off with we planned to grow only flowers and other plants not meant for consumption, but after having consulted various experts at Bioforsk, City of Oslo's Environmental Department (Bymiljøetaten), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norwegian Institute for Air research and Bjørvika Utvikling our ambitions increased.  One necessary measure is to cover the surface with a thick fibreous sheet preventing the new, clean soil from making contact with the surface underneath. Plants grown in clean soil are clean. It takes at least 10 years for the soil to become polluted through the air, and in Oslo the worst levels of air pollution are reached during the winter outside the growing season. The airing towers spread the polluted air from the submerged tunnel so high up it is carried away by the wind. Our conclusion is that vegetables can be grown as well in Bjørvika as in any of the other already existing allotments in Oslo.

But we are not leaving things to chance. Bioforsk has agreed to measure levels of pollution in plants before we harvest.

Bjørvika is a spearhead for environmentally friendly and sustainable development. Read more about the overall plans for following-up of the environment in Bjørvika (norwegian).

Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Vibeke Hermanrud
Foto: Kristin von Hirsch

Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Kristin von Hirsch

Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Kristin von Hirsch

Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Kristin von Hirsch
Foto: Vibeke Hermanrud

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