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Urban Farming in Germany and Switzerland

Grassroot Movements and Edible Landscapes in the German Speaking Space

This visual essay, a cross between an autumn walk, a tribute to the garden as a collective individuality, a search for a mirror for my own agricultural work, portrays the diversity of communities -and impulses- that can arise around a community garden in the city. Everything takes place in the German speaking space and in its small urban forests, which invite to a contemplation full of "moonlight and forest solitude", mark alternative ways of growing food in the city and expose the premises that allow the birth of a community garden and a whole sequence of benefits such as social cohesion, environmental education and urban greening for food purposes.


The tour, at the beginning a pretext to portray meditative spaces within the city, was gaining expansion until it reached twelve cities in Germany and Switzerland. The vegetable gardens are shown as a living story about communion and the possibility of opening dialogues in different languages through the cultivation of spices and vegetables. They offer a direct sensorial (and sometimes meditative) experience of vital processes such as sowing and harvesting, and even give clues about community understanding in favor of a reruralized citizenship -such as the formation of consumer groups to support producers in the region.


Originally conceived as an essay on self-sufficiency and the reconquest of urban space, this work mutated into a sort of conglomerate of visions on the link between nature and culture, capable of composing an unusual map to get to know cities such as Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart or Bern from the gardening intervention of their own citizens. These examples could well serve to catch the spirit of the tireless walker (in the manner of the writer Robert Walser), and travel through these countries with an eye on some of their gardens, all of them examples of what humans can do to remedy their link with their direct environment -and with themselves.


Each garden is presented as an autonomous entity that, at the same time, is part of an immense network of urban agriculture initiatives, similar to the rhizomes that make up living ecosystems in a farm rich in diversity. The essay provides reflections born from my own experience growing food in Peru, but also exposes a way of living Deutsch als Fremdsprache through aromas of sage, rosemary, garden honey, composting and citizen participation, where those who take the study of German as a foreign language seriously can expand their lexicon in a sensorial and participatory way.


This work is enriched by two interviews that show initiatives "on the local side" (Latinamerica): Antonio Lattuca (Argentina) describes the circumstances that turned Rosario into a reference point for social regeneration thanks to community gardens; Daniel Watman (USA/Mexico) explains the meaning of preserving a binational garden on the border between San Diego and Tijuana, a fertile space that reintegrates a community divided by a wall in the midst of a highly militarized environment.

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Stadtfrüchten (Bonn).

Neuland (Colonia).

Düsselgrün (Düsseldorf).

Prinzesinnengarten (Berlín).

Kräutergarten (Hamburgo).

Annalinde (Leipzig).

Stadtacker (Stuttgart).

Gartenleben (Friburgo).

Uhlandshöhe (Stuttgart).

Warmbächlibrache, Muttachstrasse (Berna).

Obregrashof / Dachauer Moos (Múnich).

Gartenpark am Goetheanum (Dornach/Basel).

Schulgarten Aesch (Aesch/Basel).

Pictures, text and research:

Christian Vera


Germany: Ingo Plessing, Louise Duhan, Martin K. Höfer, Joshua Sierra, Rolf Behringer, Stephan Seidel, Elizabeth Meyer-Renschhausen, Johanna Lochner, Imke Feist, Salvatore Leon, Marjorie Sick, Eleonora Flores, Carla Gallini, L.K. Lots, Renato Espinoza Subiria, Lukas Dreyer, Christoph Simpfendörfer,

Richard Brenner, Michaela Christ, Julia Salomon, Miriam Brink, Oswaldo Díaz Medina, Mechtilde Frintrup.

Switzerland: Mariananda Schempp Mantero, Daniel Barton, Mathias Forster, Marco Brutschin, Angel Chiok, Angela Zimmermann, Nathalie Dubler, Andrea de la Cruz, Christopher Schümann, Juan Bottero.

All pictures were taken between 2017 and 2020.

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