Student project Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte opens for public

15 May 2017

A project by students from the University of Amsterdam known as Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte will officially open to the public on Saturday 20 May. Anna's Tuin & Ruigte encompasses some 1.5 hectares at Amsterdam Science Park, near the UvA’s science faculty.

The garden ‘Tuin’ will be used to grow food and the brushwood ‘Ruigte’ will be a place where nature is allowed to run wild. Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte will unite scientists, students and neighbourhood residents – in fact, it just might become the most-studied corner of Amsterdam.

Smart urban agriculture and space for animals

Among the features of the new area is a permaculture garden: a lot where food will be grown using smart methods that allow nature to sustain itself. Crops will be planted that keep rabbits away, for instance, natural walls will create wind shelters (so plants can grow better) and soil cultivation we be done in a natural fashion that makes optimum use of soil organisms (that benefit plants in turn).

‘In addition to the permaculture area, there is also space for nature to develop. In the Ruigte, nature will be allowed to run wild and birds, amphibians and small mammals can make themselves at home. For example, we've already spotted a kingfisher, stork and stoat', says Joris Buis, chair of the Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte Foundation.

Room for research

Scientists and students from the UvA will be conducting research in Anna's Tuin & Ruigte. The first of these projects have already made their appearance: research into the mineral olivine as a soil fertiliser, and a study of the effects of improved water quality in the innermost ditch. A team of students is monitoring the growth of vegetation using images captured by drones on a monthly basis.

Student plan

Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte began as an initiative of a group of students. Next, three Biology students – with a brief from the city of Amsterdam and as part of the Tesla minor (a study programme) – created a plan for the design and management of the area. During their final presentation, the plan received such an enthusiastic response that municipal authorities agreed to put the students’ plan into practice and to provide a portion of the funding. Together with one of their lecturers, those students (who are now graduates) established the Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte Foundation.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the plan, the city has broken ground in the area: new ditches have been dug, the soil has been elevated in preparation for planting and a bridge has been constructed. Furthermore, a wood-chip path has been laid out, the soil has been tilled, a willow-branch hut has been built, a mix of naturally-occurring herbs has been sown and the first crops have been planted. ‘Our next steps will be to further expand the garden, to build a community house and to develop programming for the location. We're planning to organise excursions and working days, for instance, but also activities for children’, according to Buis.

Balance between urban and rural

Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte returns agriculture and nature to a place where they could be found for centuries, and where one of the last remaining farms in Amsterdam still stands: Anna’s Hoeve. Buis: ‘This way, we’re creating a balance between urban and rural life in this area within the Amsterdam ring road, to which anyone who's so inclined can come and contribute.’

Opening festival

The opening of Anna’s Tuin & Ruigte will be celebrated with a festival, to be held from 15:00 to 19:00 on Saturday 20 May. The programme includes workshops, food and drink and live music.

More info

Published by  Faculty of Science