In the Plaza México sector of the Santiago Metropolitan Park (Parquemet), very close to the funicular and cable car stations, is the summit nursery. A space of 800 square meters with cultivation terraces that were built 100 years ago in stone according to the Andean tradition. In its origins and for decades it was destined for the reforestation of the hill, but towards the end of the last century it was being abandoned.
Since 2012, it was ceded, through a cooperation agreement, to the Fundación Senderos de Chile, which has developed environmental education and culture programs linked to hiking and agroecology. “We have 10% of the land, where we maintain crops of medicinal plants, nurseries, do studies, classes, projects with volunteers and internships with university students. In addition, we are currently working on The Fungus Route, a project that won a contest from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation”, explains the executive director of Fundación Senderos de Chile, Sebastián Infante.
This agreement has been renewed, first every 5 and finally every 2 years. But on September 27, Parquemet informed them that the agreement would not be renewed, but that they would have an extra period, until March 2023, to be able to conclude The Fungus Route.
From the foundation they fear that the fertile soil and the urban agriculture center that they have built and that for years has helped to form agroecology groups throughout the Metropolitan Region will be lost.
In this context and seeking to give continuity to the nursery, the foundation has met with the neighborhood associations of Bellavista and Pedro de Valdivia Norte, to study the issue and find an alternative for cooperation.
In Pedro de Valdivia Norte, the board of directors of the neighborhood council has been in charge for a short time and has not yet resolved what to do about this project. But they show interest, especially if it goes hand in hand with Senderos de Chile and in collaboration with neighbors from other sectors. “We have a pending meeting with Parquemet. We want to inform ourselves well before taking a position”, they point out.
For its part, the neighborhood association Mario Baeza of Bellavista already has experience, both managing its own orchard and participating with the summit nursery. From this sector they see an opportunity to continue learning about agroecology and management of urban gardens. In fact, they want to join the residents of Recoleta and create a common project.
Democratize the orchard
But until now everything is on hold because at Parquemet they are still defining the nursery’s destiny.
“Without a doubt we want to put together a project or alliance that safeguards environmental care. To do this, we will prepare a public tender, which is what the relationship we have today with Senderos de Chile suffers from. We want to democratize the use of this area. All interested institutions or entities with experience in this area will be able to participate in this contest, among which Senderos de Chile is effectively”, points out the director(s) of Parquemet, Eduardo Villalobos.
Although the contest does not yet have a structure, bases or date, the idea is that it aims to strengthen environmental education at all levels. “We believe that it is a suitable place for it and what we are looking for is for the nursery to play an important role and hopefully it can develop some lines of research.”
What it does make clear is that the new project would leave out self-cultivation.
“Parquemet is not a land to generate self-consumption for anyone, it is a public space oriented to the use of the Metropolitan Region and the country,” says the director(s).
He adds that this does not mean leaving the neighbors out, on the contrary.
“We maintain a close relationship with the neighborhood associations with which we border. They should not be excluded from benefiting from the work that will be developed in the summit nursery. I insist that the spirit of this is to give it a broader, more orderly development that is not as localized as it is today”.