River of Herbs

River of Flowers is a UK based initiative which helps to plant Urban Flower Meadows, of all shapes and sizes, providing corridors of insect pollinated plants throughout cities. I read about it today, in the latest copy of Permaculture Magazine and got very excited about the project! Rather than wild flower meadows (which are of course wonderful and useful in many ways) I would like to create Urban Herb Meadows, here in Amsterdam and beyond.

River of Flowers began in London and seems to encompass many of the ideas that have come up in this website and the Amsterdam Urban Herbologists meetup group. We love nature, we want to learn from the plants, we continue to try our hands at guerrilla gardening and we like to put something back into the environment from which many of us harvest food and medicinals. We also appreciate that a world without pollinators would be very dark.

Amsterdam is rich in plant species and many Amsterdammers enjoy taking care of plants in tree pits, tiny pavement gardens and other strips of reclaimed land. I often look at and photograph these places and wish that more of the plants used could be edible or medicinal. And of course I wish that more of these urban gardeners knew how to harvest and use some of those amazing plants.

So with River of Herbs (the name will stay, if the folks at River of Flowers don’t mind – I have asked them) I’d like to do the following, with your help:

1. Identify and prepare unused spaces, however small, for growing useful perennial, biennial and annual herbs. I’m talking about spaces from plant pots to wasteland.
2. Sew suitable herb seeds and plant cuttings, roots etc. in these places. Suitable for the location, insects and food or medicine.
3. Tend the developing Urban Herb Meadows.
4. Map the locations of these Herb Meadows and photograph them.
4. When ready, harvest some of the material without compromising their usefulness to pollinators such as bees, hoverflies and butterflies.
5. Learn and teach how to use these herbs.
6. Build on successes and learn from the group process, to make more and more Urban Herb Meadows, creating an urban pollinator and food security friendly corridor.

So what do you think of this?
Am I just getting overexcited?
I wonder if our friends at Boskoi and City Plot may like to help out with this in some way?
Design& Collaboration, how about those seeded cards and papers we talked about ages ago?
Would YOU like to come and collect wild herb seed with me, or your friends and family, over the coming summer weeks and through autumn? We can then make little packets of Urban Herb Seedmix, to sew in those new meadows when the time is ripe.

Please let me know what you think. I’m all ears and green fingers.

5 Comments

  1. Yes I (we) would like to come and collect seeds.. and generally support this intitiative! It would be fun to involve/educate our children too. I think there are a few other mothers here on IJburg who would also be very interested..

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    1. Hi Lynne, that is really good to hear! I began today collecting some seed from a few roof plants and think that’s the first thing to do. I think you are coming on the Elder babies meeting next Saturday, so let’s talk about it then!

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  2. That sounds so lovely! I hope to recover from this cold (thought it was a horrible allergy attack) and then back in action.

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