Urban Gardening in Berlin: Prinzessinnengarten
Living in a big city can be really fun. Loads of activities, places to go, people from all over the world… but sometimes, we all feel a lack of contact with the nature. We all appreciate to breathe fresh air, to eat real food and to be in a quiet place.
That’s why more and more we find Urban Gardens in big cities, and especially in Berlin, it’s full of them. Prinzessinnengarten seems to us the best place to unwind, to feel out of the city and closer to the nature. Whether you help working on the garden or not, just walking around, sitting in the nice café and feeling surrounded my trees and plants makes you feel completely at ease.
Since we discovered it through the Kreuzboerg Flowmarkt, Prinzessinnengarten has turned to be one of our favourite spots of the city. The other day we were there again and we had a casual interview with some of the gardeners who pleasantly answered our questions.
First of all. Could you explain us what is the Prinzessinnengarten?
It’s a social garden for ecologic plants. It works too as a meeting point with the neighbourhood. We exchange information, because not everybody from us is profi, also amateurs. So we are learning every year more and more.
How did this project started?
Basically, one of the founders saw an urban garden in La Habana, Cuba, and wanted to do the same thing for Berlin. An open garden. He was searching for green places, and after a couple of months or half year he found this place.
And what was this place before?
Nothing. 100 years ago, in 1920 was an old shopping centre. And after that, it was nothing, temporary places like cheap markets… normally nothing. Since 2009 that we started.
Which activities can people do here? I’ve seen there’s a library, that there are workshops, the café…
So we are everyday open, since 10h to 20h. Everybody can do their own things, nobody has to do anything. On thursdays and Saturdays we have official gardens days for working for the neighbourhood, so everybody can come here and before we start working, we think and talk the things we should do.. Every time we have a lot to do so everybody is very welcomed. Especially on these two days.
Are children involved also somehow? Is there any activity for them?
So they can do their own thing or sometimes we have special workshops for them. Little groups from school also come with the teacher, and we have a tour, a guide who explains the whole garden and the system here.
Which vegetables do you cultivate?
Nearly everything that is possible here for the Berlin climate.
Do you know of there is any other urban garden here in Berlin?
Yes a lot. We are the biggest one, and maybe the most famous. But there are a lot more. There exist a lot of smaller neighbourhood gardens. There is Allmende-Kontor, in the old airport. But it works with a different system, because everyone create their own planting boxes, so they are growing for their own. And here anyone has it’s own plants or anything. This is only for us, for the Kitchen, or for selling here in the garden shop.
And how the kitchen works then?
We have a lot, everything goes to the kitchen. So they can do at 13 o’clock the first meal and at 18 o’clock the second meal. But we have to buy a lot extra more because we are not producing for the masses. Sometimes we do 200 meals in the evening so it’s not enough. We have to buy then in other ecological shops. But basically, but what we are growing goes to the kitchen.
Do you think that greening consciousness and all this urban gardening thing is growing more and more?
Right now is growing. It’s maybe a trend? A lot of people, especially from cities, are looking for more green, for more ecologic food, for more elementary… There are a lot of projects in Berlin or in Germany, probably in Europe… but on the other hand, we don’t know until when will we stay here. Right now what we know is that on autumn 2013 we have to go. Nobody knows what’s going to happen, maybe we can stay longer. It’s also a question of money, if investors come, then we will have to go and move to another place.
Do you think Berlin, this things happen really easy?
Yes, right now yes. You see many differences between other capitals or big cities, also because of the wall. The old ‘death-zone’ between east and west berlin is the reason for more green and wasted areas, for more space here. We have more green areas, and green spaces than other cities… but is going less and less, and also the prices raising up and up. Basically, when you see differences to other european capitals, we have a lot of room and the price is not so high for a capital city.
And compared with the rest of Germany? Is the rest of Germany also so aware of this green consciousness? Is it working also over other cities in Germany?
Yes, it is also. But I guess more in big cities like Hamburg, like Munich, like Kölln, like this… so cities with more than half million inhabitants. Because people there live in places with no garden, with no balcony… Especially in Berlin. So people need green, want to eat a lot of good food, and not to support industrial food that we have in every supermarket. Could be too that we have more choices in bigger cities. But I think is a thing in whole Europe.
Text by Sílvia Cabra and pictures by Silvia Conde.