Huerto Roma Verde

Two days ago, we visited Huerto Roma Verde (situated in central CDMX’s Roma district), an informal public garden that sprouted on abandoned land in 2012. The garden includes a diverse bed of flowers and vegetables fed by a totem rain catcher-filtration system, sheltered assembly areas, a recycling department, numerous pavilions, bathrooms with bio-digester, a chicken coop, its offices, a gallery, a grocery store, and more. They host community events and services – including dinners, workshops, medical consultancy, campaigns, volunteer and apprenticeships. Huerto Roma Verde’s mission is “to carry out socio-environmental activities and projects that benefit us all”.

Plan, courtesy of Huerto Roma Verde

While there, we took a tour and spoke with members from staff about how the garden began, who runs it, who does it feed, how the community interacts and is impacted, and what their future plans are. We noted common building materials used on site, where a construction team was working on a new structure: bamboo (where native to nearby Oaxaca and Puebla), steel frames, plaster, wood, simple joinery techniques, recycled plastics, found materials, and more.

Roma Verde’s Rain Catching and Filtration totem that replenishes a “mandala” of garden beds. Photo: A+A
Pavilion of water jugs at Roma Verde, built around a palm. Photo: A+A

A conversation with the recycling department, a team of two with volunteers, revealed that the federally-owned site used to have a couple of abandoned structures whose materials were used to build Huerto Roma Verde today. They also shared their trek to find an effective way to gather, shred, and form recyclable plastics into new building materials. They shared a tour of their plastic grinding machines and mold ovens (like one from open-source Precious Plastics), and their material tests and challenges. Right now, their oven is too small to produce the sheet building material that they dream of.

Alberto and I pondered the overall aesthetics of the garden, in which Alberto described as approaching “Burning Man/Coachella” vibes (through presence of ‘mandalas’, geo-domes, DIY) – in pairing with the Roma Verde’s programming (yoga, Dharma CDMX, ribbon acrobatics), we wonder if it serves to attract certain groups over others through assimilated forms and messages.

We plan to contact again with questions of aesthetics, details, and logistics – another main question is how the totem works to purify the rainfall, and whether or not the other rainfall (consequently carrying México City’s pollution on its way back to Earth) poses a threat to the crops they maintain.

Guide explains how the on-site collection of human excrement is mixed with organic compost and allowed to produce methane gas, which is then used to heat or cook at Huerto Roma Verde. Photo: A+A

We spent most of the day there, but also came across a Buckminster Geo-Dome Van parked outside Roma Verde. It turns out to be a self-run library project with a mural program for artists to paint the exterior of the van. Additionally, while working in a book shop, we found a helpful book project called “Mexibility” (a compilation of artist interventions, texts, data and maps surrounding mobility in México).

The “Bucky-Truck” as we named it. Photo: A+A
Book Find: “Mexibility” joint production of Editorial RM and the Goethe-Institut Mexiko. Photo: A+A

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