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Bloom Earth - Learning through a garden


girl holding a rake with some twigs standing besides a man in gardening clothes in a forest in autumn

Hector Morić is a franco-bosnian landscape architect who played a defining role in the creation of Bloom Earth as it is today. From 2014 until his departure in 2021, Hector was a guiding hand that inspired our students and staff members to form a relationship with nature. He supervised the first stages of clearing the forest, establishing the vegetable garden and building both the greenhouse and our beloved treehouse.


In this article, Hector details the beginning of the Bloom Earth and his role in it.


Before formally introducing myself as a landscape architect, I typically portray myself as a gardener whose aim is to poetically inhabit the world. As a gardener, I embrace the values and skills inherent in the craft: the ability to feel the spirit of a place, being in direct confrontation with the elements, forming a friendship with the living world and its interrelationships, making the most of what lies before me with humility, mastering the art of gesture, and prioritizing the integration with a living context…Always, of course, with the aim of giving meaning to a place.


I've always had this obsession with spaces - a natural need to imagine how to imbue a place with both poetic beauty and practical functionality simultaneously.


Before coming to Sarajevo, I studied at the Ecole des Jardiniers de la Ville de Paris (School of Gardeners of the City of Paris). After acquiring a wealth of knowledge about living things, I decided to continue my studies at the Ecole d'Architecture du Paysage de Blois (ENSNP) (School of Landscape Architecture of Blois). These years enabled me to gain confidence in spatial design with a team of teachers whose subjects had no boundaries with each other. The pedagogy was at the service of the landscape project. And it was this exact holistic vision of learning by doing that struck me as bold and relevant at Bloom.


Gardens - spaces for change and connection


As our world grows increasingly complex, it's essential to consider how we can adapt our relationship with nature at every level to enact the change I believe is possible. Through various projects, I've delved into pressing contemporary issues such as global warming in our cities; biodiversity loss; water resource management; the interface between urban and rural areas; urban expansion; living together... 


My role as a landscape designer primarily revolves around public spaces, but I love working on the scale of both public and private gardens. Despite their smaller scope, these spaces contain the broader concerns of our planet in a tangible and accessible manner. Gardens possess the remarkable ability to evoke enchantment, inspire dreams, and bring people together.


What we created at Bloom is ultimately a school garden, but it serves as the park of the neighborhood because there are no barriers cutting off passage. I think it was very courageous of Bloom’s director to trust me with this.


Creating Bloom Earth

 

For a long time, Maëlys had wanted to use the outside spaces around the school as a teaching tool. I think our meeting was well timed. She very quickly invited me to work with the children, and I loved it. Over the years, we created the various components of the garden with a daily concern for preparing the space so that it is spontaneous for the children.

 

I remember our first visit to the Hrid wasteland in 2014, where a few traces of human occupation (illegal rubbish dumps, a few neighbors' feeder gardens, informal paths...) could be seen beneath the spontaneous vegetation that had been reclaiming its rights since the war. So we started from an almost blank page on a rather ungrateful site covered in fill and brambles. It took a long time to reveal the obvious beauty of this natural balcony overlooking the city. The early stages were marked by us making piles and sorting out the materials that could be reused. By living in the space, we simply created dry stone walls, pathways, terraces - a little agricultural world. Our visions came together without any difficulty.


The aim was to create a garden with the children and take them on the adventure of transforming a living place. Indeed, the aim was not to create a garden that was merely ornamental, but rather to create a small world, an ecosystem, through the gardening gesture, with a sometimes peasant logic.


I learned an important lesson from this experience. For once, I tried not to draw up the project before carrying it out, as landscape gardeners traditionally do. The decisions were made in the moment in dialogue with the children. It was extremely fulfilling. Everyone had the feeling that they were designing the place, including the children!  


I think that's the most important thing about this project: the garden was the children's garden, not a parachuted vision. What's more, it wasn't the end result that was important, but the creative process. We succeeded in awakening or at least stimulating their creativity. It seems to me that in today's increasingly complex world, this is one of the most important skills to be able to handle.


Learning through nature


Apart from learning a multitude of things (construction, biology, art, languages, postures, techniques, projection...), I'm convinced that by poetically inhabiting this garden, the children were able to become aware of their place in the world. It's a form of spiritual awakening that's increasingly lacking in today's society. I think everyone should have access to this.  


I'm very keen for children to learn through nature, not from nature! The magic of the garden is that it is never finished, it renews itself and generously offers its material if we are willing to plunge our hands and minds into it.


Not only was the garden the children's garden, it was also a public space that became accessible and enjoyable. Although the neighbors in the neighborhood might have been wary at first, we succeeded in proving to them that what we were doing was important, and they gradually embraced the project.


Seeing how far-reaching our project was becoming, Maëlys had the bold idea of making the garden the mainstay of the teaching process, a "nature or garden school" as it were, in which the creation of a place was the main subject and in which each teacher, with his or her own experience, took part. This was perhaps the most difficult part of the project to make work on its own, because despite everything, the school is subject to government constraints in terms of curricula, which do not facilitate the flexibility required by such a concept. 


Following the evolution of the site from a distance, I often notice that the teachers of Bloom continue to live there, and this moves me enormously. A garden without its inhabitants makes little sense, so I'm glad to have been able to leave this dynamic behind.

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