Meeting in Peace of Land community garden

The meeting was a continuation of our discussions that started in July 2020 in ROD Pratulińska in Warsaw where we invited gardeners from allotment and community gardens to discuss various aspects, examples, chances and challenges for integration as well as similarities and differences between gardens of both types. The meeting in the Peace of Land began with a guided tour around the garden. This unique place is extraordinarily diverse in its cultivation methods, starting from raised beds, through Hügelkultur, forest gardening, self-watering planters, aquatic gardens and ending with plants commonly grown in greenhouses. All conducted in the spirit of permaculture, including the way in which the group is organized.  

Tour in Peace of Land, Berlin ©Agnieszka Dragon

Second part took the form of an open discussion, where we discussed different aspects of integration process – from the level of familiarity with initiatives, meetings of gardeners and administrations and Round Tables, through joint projects to creating community gardens inside allotment gardens. I think the Forum Stadtgärtnern is really a great initiative because they do that, they bring together allotment gardeners and community gardeners, the politic sphere and also people from the administration (Yvonne). Integration can take place on many levels, but everyone agreed that we need recourses and people who want to get involved in the process – If the allotments are supposed to be used by the general public, they need more support than they have got at the moment (Gabriele). 

We were discussed different learning experience while working in the garden. It was clearly emphasized that learning process takes place especially at the level of working with the community, negotiating various needs, applying or managing the funding. These aspects connected gardeners regardless of the type of garden just as future vision of Berlin’s gardens – We need conscious of more cooperation than the competition. And how we can help and benefit from each other, how we can share our knowledge, our resources and organizing things together (Stefan). Adding that the search for cooperation is one of the most important thing in strengthening the position of gardens in the city: I tend not to take too many thoughts on the format of how to organize it. I’m more thinking about how to get allies (…) We can’t do this alone. We have to do this jointly with others (Ralf). I would say that the garden – allotment garden and community garden start first with the question of what do we want to do, and end with diversity: diversity of people, diversity of species, diversity of functions, diversity of thoughts, ideas and open-minded people (…) This diversity brings people in and also sustains the places. And in many ways, I would say protects them from being harvested by the developers companies (Sławek). 

Discussion on different aspects of integration @Sławek Sendzielski

There have also been interesting and inspiring examples of improving the process of cooperation, not only between gardeners but also the administration. I’d like having more roundtable talks that would be the permaculture way. That is to put all the stakeholders together so that they can tell us what their needs are (Yvonne). Wilfried stressed the greater need for collaboration in discussions on meetings with the city representatives so that is more horizontal and participatory way of finding common solutions than passive listening.  

A particularly important aspect of these meetings, conducted both in Warsaw in July and in Berlin in October, was the opportunity to meet physically, get to know each other and see how much we all have in common when it comes to green spaces in our cities. We are hoping to continue these conversations in spring, if a pandemic situation will allow us.

– Gabriele Gutzmann, KGA Am Standpark I  
– Wilfried Buettner and Ralf, KGA Tempelhofer Berg, Tempelhofer Berg e. V 
– Stefan Fischer and Yvonne Stolterfoht, Peace of Land 
– Sławek Sendzielski, gardener activist from Warsaw 
– Agnieszka Dragon, Ania Dańkowska, Elena Ferrari, Integration Garden’s project; 

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