Urban Gardening: A Look At Berlin's Prinzessinnengärten

© Assenmacher/WikiCommons
© Assenmacher/WikiCommons
Berlin is often lauded for its multitude of parks and other green spaces. Many locals opt to ride bikes or take public transportation instead of owning a car. Meanwhile, container-free grocery stores are all the rage. However, no eco-friendly city would be complete without a solid urban gardening initiative. That’s where Prinzessinnengarten comes in.

Situated in the midst of Moritzplatz, one of the most urban industrial parts of Kreuzberg, this garden oasis is incredible easy to miss. Determined to add a bit of greenery to an otherwise barren surrounding cityscape, Marco Clausen and Robert Shaw, two men with minimal gardening experience, came together to cultivate Prinzessinnengärten in 2009. While they aren’t exactly virtuosos in this realm, the initiative took off thanks to their desire to ‘sew the seeds for a better quality of life’ in Germany’s capital.

Built on a decrepit city lot that was vacant for more than 50 years, Clausen and Shaw worked together with members of the surrounding neighborhood to clear away debris and plant the garden’s first seeds. The garden – and its caregivers – quickly aggregated, and the once desolate space was completely transformed.

Now, Prinzessinnengärten spans across an area of 6,000 square meters, and anyone who visits can attest to the fact that it is a lush and serene space that bears plenty of produce each season. In line with the original vision for the garden, it is intended to function as a place for exchange and learning for others who have minimal knowledge about growing their own food. Thanks to its location at a crossroads between the residences of different social groups, Prinzessinnengärten also serves as a haven for cultural interchange and community building.

Even for those who don’t rent a plot of land at the garden, it is possible to enjoy the produce. The garden café serves some of the freshest and most phenomenal salads, healthy bowls, and homemade sweets, all made with fruits and veggies taken from the garden itself. What’s more is that they sell much of the produce, making it easy for locals to eat affordably in the rhythm of the seasons. In fact, the garden sustains itself through these commercial operations.

The idea for the garden going forward is to provide a place where people can rediscover what it takes to produce their own food in an effort to combat the increasing challenges posed by climate change and to promote healthier lifestyles within an urban setting. Everything at the garden is grown organically, and there are even beehives located on sight to aid in the pollination process.

One of the biggest beauties of this garden is that it’s entirely transportable. In an ever-changing city like Berlin, this fact is an important one. Clausen and Shaw suspect that they may someday in the near future have to move Prinzessinnengärten elsewhere to continue accommodating the growing interest in it and the idea of growing food right in the heart of the city.