Plants and public transit don’t typically go hand-in-hand. But residents in Antwerp, Belgium, last week were surprised to step on the train and find themselves in the middle of a lush, mobile garden.
The district council filled the interior of tram route 1 with plants as a part of the “Neighborhood in Bloom” initiative, which encourages residents to take up urban gardening. The initiative promotes gardening as a means to transform Antwerp into a greener, healthier city.
Upon entering the train, commuters were greeted by a staff member who explained the initiative to them. After that, they could take their seats and enjoy the ride amidst the greenery sprouting from the walls, ceiling, and between seats.
“It was a joy to ride, but it was also part of a scheme to make citizens more green and encourage residents to take up urban gardening,” explained Euronews.
To encourage urban gardening, the district council has resources to help residents get their own green spaces planted. Residents can request facade gardens, trees, plants, and green garlands from the city council. The entity oversees installation — making space for gardens, laying soil, and planting — while citizens are responsible for the gardens’ maintenance. They also offer to subsidize rainwater collection barrels for gardeners.
This is the second year in a row the district council has decked out a train with plants. Last year’s mobile garden was considered a success after Antwerp gardeners were inspired to plant 200 facade gardens, 170 treed areas, and 100 garlands.
The benefits of green spaces are well-documented. Access to green spaces leads to improved mental and physical health, safer driving, and greater productivity.
The environment also benefits from urban green spaces. Urban areas are often heat islands — places with higher temperatures than surrounding areas due to human infrastructure and activity. Filling cities with trees helps reduce heat island effects by providing shade and returning water from the land to the atmosphere.
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