There is a council worker picking up rubbish in his green hi-visibility outfit. A short lady with short brown hair walks past with her balky adult son. She stops to talk to the worker, “guapisimo” she says. Handsome. Return to the heavens, she demands as she goes in for a huge hug and the customary two kisses, one on each cheek. Then she continues on, and he is left with a smile on his face. 

This was my introduction to the area where you’ll find the L’ Horat de Forat (meaning the little garden in the hole). In a peaceful town square, not far from the Picasso Museum.

There are trees that square off the plaza, as tall apartment buildings look down upon the greenery. People stop by the garden and peek in, as I had done. A man with a white shirt and blue jeans, on his way to his daily labour, walks into the Hort. He picks a few things from the back, and takes something from a tree, then as fast as he arrives he leaves, with a handful of green treasures. Back on with his day.

There is an outdoor cafe leading to the gardens, filled with pictures of Barcelona residents. This is the true Barcelona, the poster says. 

Everything is emotion, everything is interaction. It has always been like this. The door is always open. When you say Barcelona, this is the true Barcelona.

I approach a woman working in the garden, “I am here to help,” I say. Her name is Nico, she runs the garden. She explains the garden philosophy and takes me on a tour. Shows me where the gloves are and how the watering system works, and all of a sudden I am no longer part of the crowd looking in – I am inside getting dirty amongst the soil and the weeds.

Nico explains to me that it is a community garden, organised my the ‘Casal’ (similar to the council).No one has any particular plot but the garden is for anyone and everyone. 2 hours a week she comes and works in the garden, with anyone else from the community who wants to join in. There is disorganisation as many people came and then stopped coming. Planting whatever, wherever. Nico’s goal is set up better systems. She tells me where the keys are kept and she says after coming and helping a couple of times, I can come whenever I want to. The gate is always open.

This green area is the result of protests, like many of the urban gardens in Barcelona. People in the community taking control over their public spaces. Now the square full of activities, movie nights, and the garden. Nico explains the neighbourhood as being ‘humilde‘. Humble. Today, I have been invited to go along to a circus day in the same square and have signed up for the hula hoop class. Humble, with a bit of fun.

L’Hortet del Forat