Berlin-based urban farm Prinzessinnengarten [Princess Gardens] is providing a space for residents to learn about organic food production and sustainable living, in a neighbourhood which was once part of the former West Berlin adjoining the Berlin Wall.
Created on a plot of land in Kreuzberg that was home to abandoned factories, power plants and derelict apartment blocks, Prinzessinnengarten was opened in 2009 to demonstrate the feasibility of converting unused urban lots into small green pastures of flora, fauna, vegetables and fruits.
The garden founders Marco Clausen and Robert Shaw, each of whom had little gardening experience, wanted to create something that “sew the seeds for a better quality of life” in Germany’s capital following the city’s blighted history.
Setting up a nonprofit group Nomadic Green, the founders managed to rally round a sizeable number of volunteers to help turn the wasteland into a fertile farm. Today the urban farm, which spans across an area of 6,000 square metres, offers workshops on gardening and beekeeping, activities for kids, a garden restaurant and café where meals are prepared with produce grown on-site, exhibition space for art projects, the Material Mafia – who collect and recycle valuable waste, a bee project, a perennial nursery, and musical performances. This is all in addition to growing vegetables and fruits.
What is noticeably different about the Kreuzberg urban farm is that Prinzessinnengarten is mobile. There are no plants growing from the ground — only in pots, cartons and other moveable containers. That means community members can relocate the whole garden if their lease runs out or the city decides to sell the site.
Nomadic Garden said: “Prinzessinnengarten is an urban place of learning. It is where locals can come together to experiment and discover more about organic food production, biodiversity and climate protection. The space will help them adapt to climate change and learn about healthy eating, sustainable living and a future-oriented urban lifestyle. With this project Nomadisch Grün [Nomadic Garden] intends to increase biological, social and cultural diversity in the neighbourhood and pioneer a new way of living together in the city.”
Nomadic Garden currently has 25 full-time employees. The nonprofit makes money primarily by selling food and soil from the garden and by providing consulting to other people who want to build gardens in Berlin. The group also gives guided tours and gets some funding from donations.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com