Rabot is an immigrant district in Ghent, Belgium. It used to be the poorest community in the entire region where most of the population lives in low-income apartment buildings in one of the most densely populated localities in Europe.

Rabot suffered from high unemployment and the usual symptoms of urban decay.
Surveys were conducted to find out what residents wanted for themselves and their lives. Many locals wanted to have access to a few square yards of land for gardening, growing vegetables and flowers and the city happened to own abandoned land in the neighborhood that was divided into plots measuring 4 square meters each. These plots became available to rent on an annual basis at the cost of 150 “Torekes”, a local currency created for that project.

Video in Flemish.

To earn Torekes, a long list of urban agricultural improvements and beautification activities could be done. Participants were rewarded for activities such as putting flower boxes on the windowsills facing the street, planting and maintaining sidewalk flower containers, placing “no advertising” labels on mailboxes to reduce junk mail and helping to clean up the neighborhood’s sports field after a game.

Arrangements were also made with local shops to accept Torekes for specific goods that the city wanted to promote: low-energy lamps, green products and fresh seasonal vegetables. Torekes can also be exchanged for public transport tickets and seats for cultural events or movies.

This article is written by Thomas Pichon on Medium.

Photo credits Truihanoulle.