Organisation : KUTXA EKOGUNEA , Spain

The Baratze Parkea Sarea Network (‘Baratze’ means vegetable garden) brings together vegetable gardens from the various towns and cities in Gipuzkoa (Spain?), offering the public somewhere local to engage in organic horticulture for self-consumption, with the support of the community and advice from experts.


A leader in Europe?


This project also manages to improve social harmony and cohesion, integrate disadvantaged groups, promote cultural and linguistic diversity, create new green spaces integrated into the urban ecosystem, foster an intergenerational exchange and promote active leisure and respect for the natural environment.

Agendas addressed
Greenfield land and natural spacePublic space
Pathways followed
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles

Gipuzkoa is the smallest of the historical territories that make up the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. It has an area of 1,980 km² and a population of 708,207, meaning that it has a population density of 357.6 inhabitants/km2, which is higher than in the metropolitan area of Seville. Due to its high population density, urban structure, and the way it operates in terms of the flow of materials and the distribution of land use and services, Gipuzkoa is like a city.


Culinary tradition is deeply rooted in the culture and it brings together families, groups of friends and communities. But eating well, which has always been associated with local and seasonal produce, is losing ground due to the arrival of other types of products. It is essential to preserve the value of local and healthy produce and associate it with the cultural landscape.

In Action

Kutxa Ekogunea is a project promoted by the Kutxa Fundazioa, which aims to help people to make the step from environmental awareness to action through leisure, education and innovation. To accomplish this, it manages the Kutxa Ekogunea Park and has launched numerous projects in the Gipuzkoa region. It was within this context that the Baratze Parkea Sarea Network project (BPS) was created in 2011.


BPs are open spaces where any individual or group can lease a plot for personal use. Although they all have their own particular characteristics, each BP shares the following features:

  • Each BP is the result of the partnership between a town/city council and Kutxa Ekogunea.
  • They are designed and implemented to take into account the needs arising from their use and numerous sustainability criteria: locations near to towns/cities, universally accessible; locations on land bordering new districts, in declining areas, in green areas; use of sustainable water; onsite management of organic waste, etc.
  • BPs both look like parks and serve as parks. Although they are comprised of numerous plots, each BP projects the image of a single space, without boundaries between plots and with large areas for communal use and the enjoyment of all citizens.
  • Although the plots are for personal use, the rest of the facilities are communal; they are managed by the horticultural association.


At a minimum, each BP has:


  • A communal hut to store the shared tools and a changing room.
  • Clearly delimited cultivation plots, with an area of between 30 and 60 m2.
  • Communal recreational areas, welcoming, encouraging sociability.
  • Other facilities used and managed by the community: pools for irrigation water and composters where users store the organic waste generated in the vegetable gardens and produce compost.


The BPs’ sustainability is guaranteed by:


  • The users’ association that is responsible for managing the needs and duties of the users of each Baratze Parkea.
  • Each Baratze Parkea is governed by rules which detail the rights and duties of the users.
  • Each user must pay a fee that is set by the town/city council to use the land.
  • The Network provides all of its members with a range of services that are continuously improved.

After the project was launched in 2011, the first 5 BPs were set up in 2013. More were opened in 2014, including the Ekogunea BP, the Network’s headquarters, and as of June 2017 there are 18 BPs operating in Gipuzkoa.


During this time, various services have been set up based on the needs of the Network’s BPs:

  • Monthly monitoring of the vegetable gardens, with reports submitted to the town/city council and association to ensure that all parks are in good condition
  • Beginner’s course on organic horticulture for all new users, as well as other subsequent courses
  • Practical workshops on composting, creation of communal nurseries, maintaining the quality of the soil, etc. Sometimes other communities participate in these workshops, such as children from municipal summer camps, families, etc.
  • Direct technical advice for users via the Furgobaratza, a van that travels around visiting each BP once a month providing advice to users with technical questions
  • Products and services at special prices, thanks to the Network’s partner companies: Kimu Bat green services, Bellota tools, Gipuzkoako Konposta compost, etc.
  • Monitoring of the quality of the soil and technical recommendations to maintain the fertility of the soil
  • Exhibitions, talks, markets, etc.
  • Supporting and promoting users’ associations.
  • Website with information about horticulture and the Network’s services:
  • Weekly newsletter with information about the Network’s events and activities.



There are now around 700 people who own land that belongs to the Network and the time has come to start studying and assessing the changes in the consumption habits of the participants in the project.


Between the start of the project and 31 June 2017, the following impacts have been achieved:

  • Gipuzkoa town/city councils interested in the project: 37
  • Number of BPs running: 18, with a total of 1,122 plots available to citizens from 19 different towns/cities, with a total area of around 51,200 m2
  • Number of people:
    • Participants in courses on organic horticulture: 793
    • Participants in practical workshops: 780
    • People who have received technical advice in their own vegetable garden: 2,170.
    • People who have received assistance related to the users’ association: 593
    • Participants in the annual BP meetings: 181
    • People who have attended exhibitions, talks, markets and other events: 6,793
    • Participants in guided tours around a BP: 503
    • Beneficiaries of tailored services: 71.
    • People who receive the weekly newsletter: 789
  • Number of visitors to the website: 49,913
  • Amount of compost distributed in the BPs (m3) - 197


But our experience over these years confirms that their impact goes far beyond the results directly associated with the Network, because:

  • A high percentage of the plots are shared with relatives, friends and neighbours, so their impacts are manifold
  • The Network’s BPs are model followed by other town/city councils in the province, which have set up their own urban vegetable gardens without joining the Network (a total of 10 projects with 708 plots and an area of 35,560 m2)
Challenges and lessons learned

The future challenges for the BPs:

  • To consolidate the Network and its services
  • To promote the independence of the users’ associations
  • To assess the changes in the consumption habits of the participants in the project


With the main goal of increasing the consumption of local, organic and seasonal produce, we need to assess whether a project like this is actually an effective means of achieving more responsible and sustainable consumers. If so, we must quantify the changes that have occurred in purchasing decisions. The study is currently underway and the first results will be available over the course of this year.



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

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