Creating a Greener Kharkiv: The Kharkiv Green Urban Fest

It took place on June 17, 2023 at the YermilovCenter V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. Everyone had the opportunity to take part in a master class on growing microgreen from our partners Green for you – microgreen. We also distributed 50 kits for growing microgreens at home, and we are looking forward to seeing photos of the first harvest! Our goal is to build a quality food system in the city of Kharkiv, so these kits are the first step towards a greener future.

Our partners “Mom, Plant a Tree!” told the festival participants about the initiative “Plant a Tree – Demine Ukraine”, because every fifth tree planted will demine 1 square meter of land in Ukraine. The School of Sociology of Karazin University joined the initiative and planted 10 trees in Kharkiv region, as well as students and graduates of our school.

Representatives of Zmiivska Paper Mill demonstrated the full cycle of Tetra Pak packaging recycling in Ukraine. It is interesting to note that this paper mill can process up to 15 thousand tons of products per year, which makes it a very powerful processing enterprise in the region.

Our partners 3,14 BAN, a brand of modern culture of conscious consumption that gives new life to old banners and produces accessories that are useful in everyday life, demonstrated their products and everyone had the opportunity to buy them. Afterwards, the festival participants had the opportunity to listen to a lecture from the Karazin Institute of Ecology entitled “Retrospection of Kharkiv Urban Space Development: Reflections on the Past for a Green Future”, which focused on the urbanized spaces of Kharkiv and green infrastructure.

The next lecture was given by Anna Prokayeva, head of the Center for Public and Media Initiatives and head of Kharkiv Zero Waste, about waste management. Anna told the participants about packaging, separate collection, responsible consumption, and public composting. And finally, Ruslan Zaporozhchenko, a junior researcher at the FUSILLI project, told the participants about food in movies and TV shows, the influence of culture and society on our eating habits. After all, very often we do not notice how food becomes a part of not only our reality, but also helps us understand the behavior and character of characters in the unreal worlds of cinema.

In addition, all festival participants had the opportunity to see the Kharkiv Green Urban Tourʼ2023 art project and read the stories of Kharkiv residents who continue to garden in the face of war and constant shelling of Kharkiv. We continue to maintain friendly relations and fruitful cooperation with our partners. 

Gallery: Kharkiv Urban Green Fest Poster (1); Snapshots from the Urban Green Fest (2, 3, 4, 5). Credits: Karazin University

Fostering collaboration and sustainable living

In the summer, the Kharkiv team of the FUSILLI project attended the opening of the Support Space for Women and Girls in Kharkiv. The project is being implemented by our partners Green Landia NGO in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The purpose of this space is to provide psychological, legal and other relevant assistance to women and girls, as well as to inform them about gender equality, human rights and opportunities for self-realization. Our team is pleased to have the opportunity to hold lectures and workshops in the partner space.

Kharkiv Fusilli team also started a small mini-project, namely: we are growing our own vegetable garden! Our team planted a small garden on a plot of land in the city, and within a few months we saw great results. A little over two months have passed and we have already started harvesting the first crop of cucumbers, zucchini, and spices. And tomatoes and eggplants are ahead. We hope that we will succeed and that this year we will be able to harvest a good crop, for which we have interesting plans.

Also this summer, we actively cooperated and continued our cooperation with Kharkiv Zero Waste (who, by the way, recently reopened the doors of Kharkiv Zero Yard, a city public space for sorting and recycling). At the beginning of the summer, Dasha Yashkina and Anastasia Soshenko took a Zero Waste Camp trainer course, where they learned how to teach and communicate the Zero Waste idea. The intense classes and the invention of new teaching techniques inspired us to come up with new ideas and continue the work of Kharkiv Living Lab. After the successful completion of the training course, our Anastasia won a grant to organize a Zero Waste children’s camp. It was a great opportunity for children in the summer, so we, in cooperation with the School of Sociology and Karazin University, attracted children from among the IDPs who now live in the dormitory of our university.

For almost two months, twice a week, 14 children who now live in dormitory listened to lectures on the main principles of “zero waste”: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost, and Rot. Together with the participants of the Eco-Researchers camp, we learned how to reuse things, introduce reusable eco-friendly alternatives into our everyday life, give things a second life, learn the rules of sorting and composting, and participate in creative workshops where we learned to use waste as a resource (creating a composter, sewing bags, making bookmarks, etc.).

But while we were working hard, the summer ended and the new school year began, and the city was thoroughly prepared for it (food security support). Tasty and nutritious lunches are prepared every morning for students attending school in the Kharkiv Metro. The menu includes meat, vegetables and juice. According to a daily schedule, specialists working in the school canteens prepare the food and put it in disposable paper boxes, then transport it to the classrooms in compliance with all sanitary standards and rules. Every day, the cooks prepare more than 1,000 meals for the Metro School students.

It should be noted that the harvest season continues and citizens in different districts of Kharkiv continue to collect fresh and organic vegetables from their own gardens! Kharkiv residents are not limited to the outskirts of the city, but are also actively engaged in growing cucumbers and tomatoes in the city center, near apartment buildings.

The city does not forget about food security for vulnerable people. Since December, free food distribution points have been operating, which now serve about 35,000 Kharkiv residents and IDPs every day. People come and get these meals for free, which they can take for themselves and their families for the whole day. “There is a demand, so we will continue to feed people for free,” said Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov.

The public sector also cares about food security. Recently, our Daria talked to Mr. Fuminori, the founder of FuMi Cafe, a cafe in Saltovka (the district most affected by the shelling). This is an impressive story that we will tell you very soon, but the main thing in this story is that the cafe operates solely thanks to people who bring food or invest money so that every day the cafe staff can feed about 1000 people for free.


That’s how productive our summer has been, but we’re not stopping, so stay tuned for more.

Gallery: Pictures from the Zero Waste Camp (1, 2, 3) credits: Anastasia Soshenko; and picture with Mr. Fuminori at the FuMi Cafe (4), credits: Daria Yashkina


Author: Olena Muradyan, Kharkiv FUSILLI Living Lab