Food forest

Het Achterland

Across a wooden bridge, through a small gate and past a greenhouse full of plants, I see a green-colored wooden house in the back of the colorful and wild garden. In the warm sun, several women sit on tree stumps drinking tea together and talking about what needs to be done this day.

“Pluk” is a place full of greenery and peace, for anyone who wants to escape the busy city. A place to meet, get your fresh vegetables or take a soothing walk among the flower and vegetable gardens. One of these gardens is “Het Achterland.” For a long time it was a piece of land where the weeds grew between the tiles, until Eveline changed it.

Eveline is a garden designer and leads the initiative Het Achterland to make it a real paradise for people and animals. In addition to being project manager for Het Achterland, Eveline is also a beekeeper. With her own company “Haagse zaad” and “Haagse Honing” she has a beautiful garden next to her house in The Hague, full of all kinds of plants and flowers, where the bees love to swarm. At various places in The Hague you can buy a bag of seeds from Haags Zaad for bee-friendly plants, in order to keep the bee population and also make the city a lot greener.

After a few heavy rains, the land is in full bloom for the first summer. Through the overgrown paths and the buzzing of countless bees, I follow Eveline, exploring the garden. With her hands covered in sand, she pulls away every plant that doesn’t belong, knowing every plant that grows there.

The idea behind this place is that almost everything is edible for humans and animals. From strawberries to New Zealand flax, elderflower and ginger leaf. There are also a lot of plants and herbs to make your own tea with. Everything grows interchangeably. By covering the soil, it dries out less and the soil and thus the plants get more food. Once a week volunteers help to maintain the garden. It is also a place to meet and share thoughts. But also to learn more about the plants, how something grows and where everything comes from. What is the plant’s function? After walking along the narrow overgrown paths, I see a few stray clogs. With her feet in the earth, her big hat on against the hot sun, Eveline, like a real power woman, operates the chopper, grinding the weeds into small pieces.

It is certainly a true paradise, a quiet place in the middle of a big city, where you forget all your worries and are together with fellow nature lovers. Where you only feel the earth under your feet, the sun beaming on your skin, the bees buzzing and where you don’t have to think about anything else. 

June 2022, Pluk Den Haag, The Hague

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