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IMU Sustainability Office Organizes a “Balcony Gardening Training”

Istanbul Medeniyet University Sustainability Office organized “Balcony Gardening Training” for May 14 World Farmers Day. “Balcony Gardening Training” given by Landscape Architect Hatice Kübra ERUÇAR and facilitated by Res. Asst. Furkan ERUÇAR, was held on May 16, 2023 at the Sustainability Office located in the BİLTAM building in the Northern Campus of our University. The event, which was designed as an environmental education at the same time, was held open to the participation of local farmers and food producers, as well as our academic and administrative staff, students and the entire public. Within the scope of the event, the participants received information about the products they can grow in their own living spaces as part of their search for new solutions, and by learning the cultivation techniques, they became local farmer candidates.

The training started with the theoretical presentation of Landscape Architect Hatice Kübra ERUÇAR. In this presentation, besides the important contribution of farming and agricultural production to the country’s economy, ERUÇAR emphasized that farming is also of great importance for the kneading of the soil, the continuation and development of the agricultural ecosystem, and providing access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. She pointed to urbanization, which has lead to the reduction of agricultural areas and climate change as the biggest threats to farming today. She underlined that the disadvantage of decreasing agricultural lands and climate change can be minimized by developing agricultural technologies; however, she also underlined that this process can still lead to habitat loss, inefficiency and foreign dependency in agriculture.

In her presentation, ERUÇAR explained that balcony gardening has become a tradition in Turkish culture for many years. She stated that people living in cities use their balconies not only as an aesthetic element, but also to grow plants and interact more with nature. She underlined that balconies that turn into small gardens thus create an environment that facilitates the life of bees, whose living spaces are narrowed by urbanization, and that also contribute significantly to biodiversity with pollination. ERUÇAR also emphasized that balcony gardening has an important role in reducing carbon footprint. She mentioned that traditional farming methods require large areas for food production, which leads to deforestation, habitat loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. As for balcony gardening; she underlined that it offers the opportunity to grow plants in a limited area in a sustainable way and that this production will reduce carbon emissions, especially from transportation.

ERUÇAR continued her presentation by explaining the basic issues that both local farmers and food producers and citizens who will do balcony gardening should pay attention to during seeding and planting stages. At this point, she emphasized the importance of choosing plants to be planted before starting gardening by providing detailed information on what are good neighbors that will support each other and bad neighbors that will prevent the growth of another species when food production is made in narrow areas such as raised gardens. Afterwards, she gave the participants technical information about how to plant seeds. Stating that gardening is a process, plants should be followed continuously and the needs of the plant should be met by observing, ERUÇAR talked about solutions such as vermicompost, compost, fertilizers, and lotion that repels harmful insects that can be applied in the care of plants and agriculture, and conveyed the basic rules about how they should be applied.

After the theoretical training, tea, which is the symbol of Turkish identity, hospitality and social interaction, was offered to the participants by the Sustainability Office and during this break, trainer Hatice Kübra ERUÇAR answered the questions of the participants about balcony gardening. At the end of the break, our Sustainability Office team informed the participants that in accordance with our university’s waste reduction policies, the cardboard cups will be used as a growing container for planting seeds by upcycling, and the cups were washed with water to remove beverage residues.

After the break, ERUÇAR talked about the importance of ancestral seeds for ensuring food safety and sustainable agricultural production, and distributed pink tomato, eggplant, sunflower, almond cucumber seeds and disposable local parsley, basil and dill seeds to the participants for planting in the workshop. In the application part, each participant planted their seeds under ERUÇAR’s guidance. After the seeding phase, our trainer H. Kübra ERUÇAR explained to the participants the points that they should pay attention to during the germination process of the seeds and showed practically how to do the transplanting process after the seeds turn into seedlings.

The workshop ended with the presentation of a certificate of appreciation to landscape architect Hatice Kübra ERUÇAR.

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