Local Goal Getter Martia Tersteeg, creator and board member of Tapijntuin

This week we interviewed Martia, an inspiring woman who is striving to educate as many people as possible about nature. As the founder of Tapijntuin she secured a lovely quiet spot in the centre of Maastricht.

Make sure to have a goal, and pursue it.

With the company of a herbal tea (ingredients from the garden of course) and a view over the garden, I spoke with Martia Tersteeg. Inspired by Michel Onfray she had the idea to start her own community garden (SDG #15). When she had an interview with him in France, he convinced her to pursue her idea. He also started a community garden in France. Although he convinced the mayor to arrange it with a glass of wine and a nice chat, Martia had to put more effort in it. When in 2012 the inhabitants of Maastricht were asked to create a new function on the former barracks-base, Martia took her chance. After multiple pitches, discussions and conversations she eventually managed to realise her idea. Together with four other board members she was able to create a community garden Tapijntuin.

The message of this story is to have a goal and to make sure it will happen. That is what Martia also wants to share with everyone. Make sure to have a goal in life, and pursue it!

Spreading knowledge

During the talk, I was surprised by the knowledge of Martia, the knowledge that she shares with everyone. Whether it is about forgotten vegetables, adapting to the environment or about the worm hotel, everyone is always free to walk in. Although voluntary walk-ins are always possible, there used to be multiple organised events. Due to Covid unfortunately these had to be paused, but they will resume in September. Martia can’t wait to organise the events again; educational but also very social. Asylum seekers come in contact with interested local inhabitants. Lonely elderly people are in contact with each other, sport with a coach and make meals from their childhood. Obesities youth learn about vegetables and learn how to cook them. (SDG #13)

Main wish and a funny wish

Eventually, after 7 years, multiple volunteers, numerous visitors, partnerships with Gemeente Maastricht and University Maastricht (SDG #17), Martia and her board established themselves in the Tapijnpark. And still, after seven years, the joy of seeing an eggplant flower is unique. Although ‘it cannot be compared with the joy of two years ago after seeing Morchellas in the garden’. This species of fungus is very rare and only grew that year in the Tapijntuin. Eventually, these were used in a special dish in a Maastricht restaurant. One of Martia’s wishes is to see this species again in the garden. But her main wish is to make sure the Tapijntuin will exist for a long time and many educational events will take place. The location couldn’t have been better. With the nearby campus of University Maastricht numerous students come to visit. As a result, multiple collaborations between the garden and students exist.

The garden might be small, but there is so much to see and it changes every day.  The largest recent change is the instalment of an irrigation system that pumps groundwater that eventually waters the ground through garden hoses with small holes in it. (SDG #12)

Knowledge and passion

Although Martia is our Local Goal Getter, she often reminded me that she couldn’t have done this on her own. She is thankful for everyone who supported and helped her and the Tapijntuin. In addition, she is epically grateful for Frank Raddar. When asked who her local inspiration is, she immediately replies with his name. His passion and knowledge about herbs and spices are unmatched. So teacher Martia is also a student Martia. As a result, she can give you all the information about how to be aware of the environment. She will do it with her unique knowledge and passion.

Author: Sven van der Pas

Pictures: Sven van der Pas

Editing: Jennifer Timmermans