The Hague being served at the table

Transforming a school gym into a hub for organic food

A former school building in Witte de Withstraat 119 in the Zeeheldenkwartier of The Hague went through a process of transformation and is now a community centre flourishing with new ideas. Its gym and courtyard host social activities and on Wednesdays the gym is open to the public and one can buy seasonal fruit and vegetables. is an initiative by a group of volunteers trying to offer new ways of consuming our food. They organise a weekly non-profit market where you can get with € 12 a big quantity of 8 or 9 different vegetables and 1 or 2 different types of fruit, all from local farms and without packaging. If you volunteer for some hours you only pay € 10.

Volkskeuken Christmas dinner at the gym
A Volkskeuken Christmas dinner at the gym, bringing people together around a table.

Even before the local municipality started to sell, the building hosted various associations grouped under a project called Den Haag in Transitie, part of a bigger network of cities in transition, working to build a more sustainable future with citizens’ initiatives.

A couple of weeks ago, on 20 August, Volkskeuken and organised a dinner night inaugurating a wood fired oven  and home-made pizza was prepared and served by time bankers.

Local radio and TV station Den Haag FM popped by and interviewed Liselotte from Volkskeuken and Sara from You can watch their interviews below and read the article in Dutch here.

I feel pleasantly satisfied because, after having written a post on the practice of time banking last year, I see some positive and exciting development. Last year we enjoyed building a wood oven and testing it a few times. This summer we finally shared it with a bigger group of people.

A sketch of the oven
An early sketch of the oven
pizza oven
Starting from scratch and going a long way.

The evening was super nice. The food was prepared by Liselotte, Lisa, Felix, Gabi, whilst Gonçalo and myself concentrated on the pizza. Joeri and Ronald fired the oven and helped serve the hungry punters and Sara kept it all together running it smoothly. Den Haag in Transitie breathes the air of a social centre, with the difference that rather than getting kicked out by the municipality, the city of The Hague recognises the positive social impact that such a project could bring to local communities and finally gave the official green light so that such initiatives can keep happening. Check for upcoming events.


Photos: Anna Moreno CC BY-SA

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