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You are here: Home Resources Further reading From airport to community garden in the heart of Berlin

From airport to community garden in the heart of Berlin

last modified Jul 08, 2013 02:42 PM
In Berlin, located in what used to be an iconic pre-World War II airport, now flourishes a 5,000 square meter community garden where more than 500 people share the 185 parcels of land available to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.
From airport to community garden in the heart of Berlin

First potato harvest at Berlin's fabled airport. Photo: Kerstin Stelmacher

Tempelhof airport, which ceased operations in 2008, has been transformed in a public space used by locals for sports, sunbathing, the occasional bbq or picnic, and kite flying with part of it now dedicated to urban agriculture.

Located in Neukölln, a working class district of Berlin where immigrants, foreign students and artists have settled, in part to escape the rising rent prices, the community garden is a place where locals congregate and socialize while also helping each other out. With a growing waiting list for next year's allotment attribution, nothing has stopped the organizers from carrying on their activities. They are facing two main obstacles. On the one hand, until they know if the 3 year long contract can be extended, only temporary constructions are allowed. On the other side, some feared the soil's quality might have been contaminated by plane fuel or even bombs from World War II. The locals involved in the project have been able to adapt to both of these constraints by planting their seeds in large elevated boxes, re-using old wooden structures from furniture, barrels or tables in which they put soil provided by the Allmende-Kontor, the public garden office.

Amidst the increasing cost of food and current economic crisis, growing its own food while sharing knowledge and gardening tips is a way for the community to create and produce rather than consume and this, as a result, nurtures a spirit of co-operation and collaboration. Along the same lines, the Allmende-Kontor, plan to give something back to the community: they plan to create a resource pool and a seed store. The seeds collected and preserved will in turn supply Berlin's gardens and customers so that another summer can see the city blossom.

Allmende-Kontor, the common place for community gardening and urban agriculture is a Nonprofit organization which relies on the voluntary work of the community. /

By: Kristin Radix

Text: Genevieve Lavoie-Mathieu

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