What is the group Perka (Urban Farming)
The group PERKA was created in the beginning of 2011 by people living in the city whose goal was the communal and in season cultivation of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs in a field or an appropriate space near the city of Thessaloniki.
With the support of the local Cultural Club, the group began cultivating a small part of the 689 stremma (68.9 hectares) expanse of the former military encampment Karatasou. The cultivation/farming is not for profit, it covers part of the members’ needs, it supports vulnerable social groups amd is based on the principles of organic, biodynamic or natural farming, using heirloom seeds and plants, while at the same time we enjoy the benefits of working with and being in contact with the earth. The foods produced are clean, safe, nutritious and generally beneficial for the human body, while at the same time we respect the local flora and fauna which has sprung up in the region during the past few years.
At the moment, PERKA’s activiites are the most active volunteer action in the former military encampment since, two years after the first effort, there are now four new PERKA teams, which operate based on the same principles of respecting natural and human resources. Our daily presence in the camp has reduced instances of robberies, ransacking of the buildings and tree cutting, making the area a safer place for visitors.
On a social level, this activity has two basic aspects:
- Through the principles of communicality, self-management, egalitarianism, continued education and outside any political party lines, the cultivation becomes a research “lab” which helps bridge the gap between urban dwellers and farmers and which brings city folk closer to nature. With our positive attitude and actions, we try to understand the natural cycles, learn from them, and find a cooperative way for escaping the crisis, especially the social one.
- With sensitivity towards the natural ecoscape which has developed since the abandonment of the military encampent by the army, the PERKA groups recognize the enormous natural value of the region for the city of Thessaloniki. The PERKA groups are against the privatization, segmentation, seling out of the land, and construction on it. They support the public character of the area, as well as the various efforts of the Cultural Club of Karatasou and all other organizations, groups or people with common goals. Not only do we not want to take over the area, but by maintaining its open spaces and buildings, we function like a temporary bridge between today’s official abandonmnet of the camp and the realization of a complete and integrated plan for turning the camp into a free and open green space for the citizens of the Pavlou Mela municipality, but also of the entirety of Thessaloniki, who we call to create here the next farming group, or take part in other actions supporting our common cause.
- We are not pursuing or antagonizing the perfectly correct proposal to make better use of the space and we are in support of proposals for the mild use and exploitation of the camp. Our actions are open and obvious to all and have found a great positive response among the citizens of the Municipality and visitors. We simply form another aspect of the spontaneous, alternative and cooperative economy of the region.
The group PERKA created the first self-organized Communal Garden in Central Macedonia, based only on personal work and expenses of its members, comprise. In addition to this, in a very short time period we obtained, human substance, a sense of collectiveness and – the most important – we realized with optimism that we can, after all, cooperate, and enjoy our common existence, in stark contrast to the pessimism and apathy of our times. The creation of PERKA Karatasou was quickly spread within Greece, but also in other countries, and formed an example to be mimicked for the creation of similar projects/ventures/efforts.
The group PERKA participates in the Open Network for direct provision of products in http://anoixtodiktio.gr/ (only Greek/Spanish).
You can also find our principles here: http://perka.org/content/principles (only in Greek).