BUSINESS COMPANIES Social

“Gradinescu” or “The Urban Gardens”, a new social responsibility project launched by Kaufland in Romania

Kaufland Romania is investing EUR 300,000 in a network of community urban gardens, transforming its roofs, the outside of the parking places and of the stores in green areas cultivated with vegetables, fruits, shrubs, aromatic plants and flowers that can be used by the community. This project which is “beloved” by Kaufland, as stated by Katharina Scheidereiter, responsible for CSR Kaufland Romania (photo), in a press conference, is also a totally domestic project, since Romania is the only country where the German retailer is developing such an initiative.

“Gradinescu”, namely the project developed by Kaufland together with its partners at the Association of the Research Institute for Permaculture in Romania, is a premiere in Romania and it promotes the care towards nature, community spirit and it supports the development of the urban agriculture by its own example. “Gradinescu” also aims to familiarize children and adults with gardening and with the ease to have a healthy diet even in the urban environment.

“Gradinescu” is a project consisting in a network of nine community urban gardens, namely three gardens placed on the roofs of the Kaufland stores, four gardens in the parking of the stores or behind the stores, and two gardens in schools from Bucharest.

Being present at the press conference, Valer Hancas, Corporate Affairs and Communication Manager at Kaufland Romania (photo R), mentioned two of the reasons which led to this project: “The first and the most important reason is that we are trying to reinvent ourselves, we have a new visual identity, a new logo, a new campaign, namely the new You, the new Garden, the new Store, a new Experience, not only in Kaufland stores, but also in the adjacent areas of the stores, and, why not, on the roof of the stores. The second reason, as we made you to get used, is that we try every year to bring something absolutely new. After opening the first summer store in Sovata, in a tent, we also make other new things, proving today that business can be combined very well with the involvement in our communities, thus inviting the whole community in the spaces we create in the nine gardens”.

“When the nine gardens in Bucharest will be completed, we intend to identify also other premises where the area around the stores allow us to have such projects” added Valer Hancas.

The Kaufland store located on Bucurestii Noi Blvd. is the first store with its outside part already transformed into an urban garden. The second urban garden will be placed on the roof of this store and it is almost ready, and until this autumn, the gardens on Barbu Vacarescu Street, from the Tudor Vladimirescu and Aparatorii Patriei neighborhoods and from the Schools no.136 and 143 in Bucharest, will also be equipped. Each urban garden will be different; the one located on Barbu Vacarescu Street, for instance, will be arranged “in the comestible style”, as stated by Ionut Badica, project manager and President of the Association of the Research Institute of Permaculture in Romania (photo L). Therefore, the urban gardens will be comestible or decorative, on different themes, depending on the store, with vegetables and fruits, aromatic or exotic plants, orchards, solariums, greenhouses, plots that can be adopted by members of the neighboring community, flower meadows, as well as mini-lakes, water meshes for birds, insect hotel and co-working, events and relaxation places.

The urban garden arranged in the store on Bucurestii Noi Blvd. has an area of 2300 sqm and is designed to be used by the community. Kaufland Romania invited people living near the store to come and adopt their own garden plot and take care of it, under the coordination of the specialists of the partner institute, making available for users even the necessary gardening tools. It includes a working space specially arranged for co-working (provided with Wi-Fi, tea and other facilities). The garden will also serve as learning room for the schools and kindergartens in the area, as well as a relaxation place, being endowed with a playground for kids, and soon, with an outdoor cinema.

With this initiative, Kaufland reinvents the concept of hypermarket in Romania and again proposes a model of responsibility. In addition to the aesthetic and educational role, the gardens on the roof and outside the parking places also bring environmental benefits, by purifying the air and reducing pollution, noise and moisture regulation.

The initiative comes in the context in which urban agriculture or “gardening on the balcony” is an increasingly common occupation. In this regard, Kaufland presents the results of the first survey on the spread of urban gardening in Romania. According to the survey, 7 out of 10 Romanians practice urban agriculture, cultivating at home vegetables, greens or fruits, from the desire to enjoy their own natural cultures. More than half of them choose to grow greens (57% of respondents), while 39% cultivate fruits and 27% grow vegetables, some of them combining several types. The most often cultivated plants by Romanians in urban areas are strawberries (25%), lemons (20%), followed by tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, thyme and rosemary. The balcony is the preferred place for urban agriculture by almost 50% of the Romanians, while 14% of them grow plants in front of the building, 8% on the outskirts of the city, and the others do not find a place in the city, focusing on the plots outside.

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