Candidate – Sweden
Submission by: Lerums kommun
Project name: Växtrum i Lerum
Växtrum in Lerum developes small areas in the city center to become green meetingplaces and inspirering parks. Växtrum is an all-year-around arrangement, created and developed by the municipality of Lerum. The Växtrums develope in collaboration with well-known swedish garden profiles. The event engage business collaborations with local companies and between 20-30 voluntary municipal residents annually, who plant and maintain the parks. Växtrum breaks new ground for community development, municipal activities and co-creation.
With Växtrum, Lerum municipality succeeds in achieving many of its set goals in terms of ecological, social and economic sustainability. Växtrum works purposefully to develop, educate and inspire residents in Lerum municipality and visitors regarding biodiversity and sustainable development, and to be a vital engine for Lerum’s business life.
Over the years, Växtrum have succeeded in developing and growing from being a local concern to now attract and inspire national and international visitors.
Växtrum is developed and arranged by the municipality of Lerum. It is mostly based on voluntary work from the municipality’s residents. Annually, between 20-30 volunteers spend many hundreds of hours working together to develop our shared local environment. Many volunteers return annually, but every year several participants come for the first time. Often newcomers to the municipality use Växtrum as a way to create new networks and friends, get to know their new municipality and become part of its development. That Växtrum function as meeting places is a central idea. All the Växtrums are open 24/7 all year round and free of charge. All Växtrums have benches for visitors. Two of the Växtrums have significantly more seats and can be booked for concerts, lectures or other activities. For several years, disabled groups and students studying swedish have weekly maintenance tasks in Växtrum.
In 2020, we carried out the theme initiative ”Växtrum Earth Square Meter” together with this year’s Växtrumdesigner Niclas Vestin. We focused on biodiversity to help pollinators. We got 60 school-classes/1800 students in Lerum to work with the theme and make a blooming square meter in the schoolyards. We wanted to inspire citizens to create their own squaremeters. In 2022 växtrum made a competition garden at Malmö garden show based on the theme. We took the schoolcampaign to Malmös schools and invited them to come with their ideas about sustainability. Our schoolcompetition is now going to be an activity connected to Malmö Garden Show, every second year. (appendix 2, 6 and 8).
Växtrum is arranged, operated and mostly financed by the municipality of Lerum. But in the structure of Växtrum, partner funding from local businesses has been a cornerstone since the start (today seven partners). To strengthen and sustain interest from partners, we work to provide business benefit through exposure and tailored activities for each partner. The practical work with structure, soil and planting in Växtrum has since start been based on voluntary work, under the guidance of Växtrums gardener. Annually, we have between 20-30 municipal residents who, with over 1,000 working hours per year, are responsible for all the planting and maintenance of our Växtrums. For four years, we have a collaboration with Hermod’s horticultural education, where Växtrum is a part of the education and the students do practical maintenance in the parks. That has created a valuable addition to Växtrums maintenance.
Växtrum has created thriving mini-parks in the urban area in places that were previously unused. Today we have ten unique Växtrums with a wide range of flowers, bushes and trees. Contributing to biodiversity. Växtrum also launched a plant selection-catalog digitally and in print (appendix 3) to the public. A guide for plants in different types of growing environment to inspire a green transition and a more sustainable society. Each year Växtrum gives free lectures about soil, with the purpose to spred knowledge about what everyone can do to improve the soil they already have, instead of buying new.
Wellbeing of visitors/users
Each Växtrum is uniquely created with a wide range of both environment, structure and plant selection. They are inspirational mini-parks for residents of the municipality and for visitors. For many who do not have a garden, the ten Växtrums are oases to visit, to enjoy. They are free of charge, open every day of the year and all hours of the day. During the pandemic, the Växtrums had many visitors who could not meet family and friends indoors. They used the Växtrums for those meetings. Through voluntary work in Växtrum, we also achieve an important social function by breaking loneliness, offering participation and creating new social networks.
Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials
Since the beginning, Växtrum has collaborated with 12 Växtrum designers (Simon Irvine, Hannu Sarenström, Karin Berglund, André Strömqvist, Gunnel Carlson, Gerben Tjeerdsma, Peter Englander, Mona Holmberg, Cecilia Liljedahl, Anders Stålhand, Niclas Vestin, Eva Robild) who each have come up with their own idea of what a Växtrum could look like. Through this, the diversity in both plant selection, structure and function has been able to blossom (appendix 1). In every Växtrumdesigner’s mission, sustainable material choices and wise plant choices are a clear directive, where we strive for local cultivation as much as possible. We avoid pressure-treated wood and mostly work with recycled material, for example we have reused granite road posts in several of our Växtrums. The wooden constructions we have in several parks are made by our volunteers. Special designed animal sculptures made from recycled metal adorn half of our Växtrums.
The overall design
Our basic idea with Växtrum has been to create a combination of green inspiration and at the same time offer places for meetings and recovery in the densification our society is undergoing. In condensation, the protection of the soft values is important. From the beginning, Växtrum has used areas that the municipality owns, areas that have been complicated to use for other purposes, for various reasons. The tenth Växtrum, Mångfalden, was created on private ground at a centrally located condominium association. A contract was written where Växtrum created a park on their ground. In exchange that area was being opened for the public to visit. The concept of Växtrum is that each mini-park harmonize with the site’s surrounding buildings, appearance or history. The växtrum idea now evolves further in a new venture to several housing associations (Dig where you stand). For a reasonable fee, Växtrum support condominium associations in the municipality to get started, to create their own green spaces and meeting places, with the residents of the association (appendix 5).
The impact on the environment
Green environments, plants and trees in urban environments are important for many reasons. For well-being for people, for insects, animals and biodiversity. As a municipality, we have many discussions about how we can integrate Växtrum into our future municipal challenges. In addition to what we have already mentioned as public health, co-creation and wellbeing, we work actively to try to integrate Växtrum around more social development challenges. For example, stormwater solutions, noise reduction and landslide risk. Letting green spaces fulfill more functions has great potential and we are in the beginning of these discussions. With Växtrum the municipality has a unique opportunity to combine the development of the society with beauty and pleasure. In order to reduce climate impact the Växtrum-parks are easely accessed with public train.
Innovative value of the project
It can be complicated to start and maintain a project that goes beyond the core functions of a municipality, that is healthcare, school, and cityplanning. Finances, priorities, complicated decision-making, lack of organizational and political courage can be major challenges. Växtrum has succeeded in uniting different interests through participation and unique collaborations between residents, local businesses, associations and the municipality. By marketing Växtrum through activities, inspiring films and music, Växtrum has strived to broaden the concept of green experience and park environment to make Växtrum relevant to many new groups (appendix 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). The fact that the arrangement has kept both time and budget and each year has delivered what’s been promised, has firmly established Växtrum both internally in the organization and externally in the community. Växtrum have succeeded to maintain the interest of partners and volunteer participants over the years, and attracts new companies and participants yearly. Växtrum is a development/investment that lasts over time, unlike many temporary investments. Over the years, Växtrum has conducted a series of free lectures, concerts, guided tours, family days, boattrips and plant markets (appendix 14). Växtrum gives the municipality of Lerum a platform to meet many municipal challenges, while giving Lerum municipality a stronger identity and at the same time attracting new visitors, residents and business establishments to the municipality.