The Sinnema garden in Pedreguer: feeding those who need it.

Here you will find potatoes, vegetables and citrus fruits but its purpose – which is now ten years old – is to support a solidarity project: to feed those who have little and to help the integration of those who are rejected by the current economic system, it does not matter to Herman and Ineke, the owners of perhaps the only ecumenical, international and solidarity garden in the Valencian Community. Sinnema family garden in Pedreguer

115 families have learned a trade thanks to the Sinnema garden

For this reason, although it is possible to speak throughout this decade of production of about 18,000 kilos of potatoes, about 23,000 kilos of vegetables and about 13,000 kilos of oranges, vegetables that are distributed and offered in exchange for a voluntary donation, Sinnema put their pride in the opportunity offered to some 115 families that over the years have found in the orchard, the opportunity to learn a trade -which has led some to the creation of gardening companies – Being able to bring food to the table, when all the doors seemed closed – and the space to strengthen ties of friendship with people from different countries.

How the story of creating a garden began …

Ten years ago, the Sinnemas had just retired in Pedreguer and were excited about setting up a garden in their little house. The idea had been maturing in Jávea, in conversations with other Dutch friends, who collaborated in cleaning a wasteland full of stones. The Sinnemas, like good Dutch, wanted to start with potatoes and looked for a supplier-sponsor.Ecological garden in Pedreguer

“My modest contribution to the Sinnemas started 10 years ago through a friend of mine who works in my same company but in the Netherlands,” says the Spanish manager of a Dutch seed potato company in Valencia, who wishes to remain anonymous. “The first year I brought them the seed potatoes myself with the car, we exchanged emails and little else. After a year we had hit it off and I didn’t know then that a large part of the production was destined for Caritas, the Parroquia del Mar de Jávea. I kept going to Pedreguer in successive years, delighted to bring them the seeds and have a coffee with them, see Ineke’s paintings and chat about potatoes with Herman, who is enthusiastic about the varieties I bring them, “he explains.

This businessman considers that “the world is set up backwards. We worry about what is not more important. We should be more supportive and think more about others. Unfortunately, and I the first, we worry about profitability, about money. But I think that making time for others is common sense. I see people who have little and, nevertheless, collaborate, help. That should be normal. “

For their part, Herman and Ineke come from families that thrived in solidarity. In the war, Herman’s father hid Jews and everyone knew that if there was hunger in a family they would help them. “In the Netherlands, especially in the countryside,” says Herman, “people help each other. They transmitted that way of life to us. For us it is natural. But I have also come across similar models in the Spanish countryside. I have neighbours who teach me to work the land here, with its periods of drought and scarce irrigation. Others give me the manure, many solved my doubts…. They are neighbours that today I consider friends, as are many others, from other sectors, who occupy or have held high positions in important companies in Spain and who disclose the need for a change in mentality ”.Solidarity garden Sinnema Pedreguer family

This change of mentality, of use and enjoyment of the property, is also shared by the anonymous supplier of potatoes. “Young people are much more sensitive to thinking about others and analyse what we are doing with nature,” he says. “We should give more information and encourage each other to change this unjust state of things, of people who have everything and others lack the essentials. I have seen that the Sinnemas are happy with what they do and I would like to do something similar when I retire. Although my contribution is so small that I am almost ashamed.

The marketing that is practiced is the traditional (and more effective), word of mouth

Ineke, is the daughter of a Protestant pastor. “The education I received, even though it experienced contradictions, was a golden rule for helping others. For me, all people are the same. The importance of this garden is not only that we produce food for many people who come to Cáritas, but also that it allows us to welcome displaced people and bonds of friendship and solidarity are created between them. We are helping them to become part of society ”.Pedreguer solidarity garden

The marketing that is practiced is the traditional (and most effective), word of mouth. Starting with the Dutch colony of Jávea and extending throughout the Marina Alta. “Four times a year, groups of about thirty people go on an excursion to Pedreguer and pick up, depending on the season, onions and curly cabbages, potatoes and strawberries, thistle and artichokes, beans … in exchange for a donation.” Visits which were logically truncated by the pandemic.

And then there are the other foreigners from Pedreguer, many neighbours who do not have a garden, some residents of Jávea, Cáritas from Parroquia del Mar that distributes kilos of potatoes in a campaign that is already expected in May as something traditional and that is maintained thanks to the high quality of the Dutch potato and the generosity of those who, with their donation, contribute their grain of sand to a charity project.

What a lovely, heartwarming story!