Vitoria Gardens Collection: trees and plants coming from the Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood
The Quinta of Vitoria neighborhood was built by its residents and was located between the Lisbon and Loures municipalities, near the Lisbon Airport. It started to be built in the sixties by families coming from the north of Portugal. Following the decolonization process and during the construction of the 1998 World Fair, the neighborhood received a great number of both Indian and African families. The Indian families came mainly from Diu and the African ones came mainly from Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and S. Tome and Prince. At one time the population reached 5000 people. However, in 1993 a Rehousing Special Plan (RSP) started to be implemented and as a result of this process, the neighborhood was demolished in 2014.
For 40 years, the inhabitants of the neighborhood planted several botanical species, the majority coming from India and Africa. The planting of trees, gardening of vegetables and ornamental species were always part of the different cultures present in the neighborhood. Those practices were related both to economic subsistence and to the cultural aspects namely associated with gastronomy, traditional medicine, and religious ceremonies.
In addition, the residents developed their own means of subsistence, as is the case of the people from Cape Verde who promoted the extensive plantation of sugarcane. They were able to produce cane brandy, molasses, and other traditional products which were in the own neighborhood or in the parallel trade.
The significant number of plants and trees originated in India was justified not only due to the strong presence of the Hindu community but also to the need of using them in religious ceremonies. Among them can we can name transplanted species directly from India, such as the Peepal tree, which is considered to be a sacred plant and that is commonly used in religious worship.
The Vitoria Gardens Collection: trees and plants from the Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood project started in 2012 when the final phase of its demolition was taking place. The objective was to safeguard their disappearance by promoting the transplantation of the more significant botanical species. In this way, a process that normally would lead to the destruction and disappearance of the Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood could be reversed.
The Plant Archive of the Vitoria Gardens Collection is made up of 51 botanical species, representing mostly the plants and trees existing in the Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood, originally coming from different places such as: Mozambique, Kenya, Cape Verde, Portugal, Angola, Guinea Bissau, and S. Tome and Prince.
The different species composing the Plant Archive were identified by the residents of the Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood, who were also interested in participating in building a specific garden to accommodate those plants and trees. The garden finally came into being in the surroundings of the neighborhood and was named Vitoria Gardens Collection: trees and plants from Quinta da Vitoria.
This garden is constituted by 20 botanical species, which were selected from the Plant Archive. Each botanical species has a name tag where testimonials from the residents are written, interconnecting the use of these species with their life´s history in the Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood.
This garden is regarded as a conquered territory, a memory repository and a place for cultural preservation. It is a space which can be used by the former residents of Quinta da Vitoria neighborhood, as well as by the local community living nearby.
From the set of 50 species identified in the Plant Archive, only 20 species of them were transplanted to the garden proper. Some of the other species remained in the neighborhood, namely the large trees, and others were moved to the municipality’s plant nursery.
The Vitoria Gardens Collection has been the result of a long research and artistic creation process. It started in 2006 by a multidisciplinary team in close collaboration with the local residents. Other elements of documental nature were collected in the District such as Documents and Residents, testimonials through texts and photos about the Quinta da Vitoria which were provided by the children and the residents who lived in the neighborhood during the 2007-2009 period.