A petal-powered bike project in Denmark’s second city

© Cykelhaver

Green-fingered volunteers in the Danish city of Aarhus have given abandoned bicycles a new lease of life – by turning them into tiny urban gardens.

About fifty young people gathered recently to decorate bikes with plants, flowers, and prettily painted herb boxes. For the next two months the beautified bikes will sit outside bars, cafes, and restaurants in the city’s Latin Quarter.

The Cykelhaver (or “bicycle gardens”) project is the brainchild of 19-year-olds Helene Cherie Hornsleth, Oskar Vedel, and Ciliane Stubkjær. Having seen a number of abandoned bikes around town, they decided to contact GRO SELV, a Danish platform which supports youth projects around the themes of “food, housing, and happenings.”

Cykelhaver© Cykelhaver
Esben Vestergaard Pedersen is GRO SELV’s project leader in Aarhus, Denmark’s second city and the European Capital of Culture in 2017. He says the organization helped the young volunteers find materials, paint, tools, and waste wood to make herb boxes.

Cykelhaver© Cykelhaver
“They didn’t know anything about building, they just had the idea,” Pedersen says. “They saw all these broken bicycles around town, thought it was a sad sight for people every day, and decided to turn them into gardens.”

Among the fruit and herbs growing on the spruced-up steeds are thyme, rosemary, parsley, strawberry, and mint. According to Pedersen, the volunteers hope to harvest their tiny urban crops for a celebratory meal in two months’ time.

Cykelhaver© Cykelhaver
And if the petal-powered project proves popular, it could continue beyond the summer. So far, Pedersen says, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Everybody seems to like it,” he says. “It’s inspiring for older people to see younger people in the city – young people who just want to plant plants. And it’s great to see young people trying things they haven’t tried before.”

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