Updated version (21.09.2015)
by Erik Bertram
The Prinzessinnengärten (Princesses Gardens) in Berlin is one of the world’s (at least in the global north’s) most renowned urban gardening projects. The project’s site is at Moritzplatz right in the heart of one of Berlin’s most buzzing quarters: Kreuzberg. The city’s website tells us that the 6000 m²-sized area on which the Prinzessinnengärten now blooms and blossoms had been barely used (eg as a parking lot, as a depot, or a place for flea markets) for over 60 years until the initiative Nomadisches Grün (Nomadic Green), set up in 2009, started to clean the site of rubbish and other remains of the former wasteland. Over the summer of 2009 friends, activists and neighbours built transportable organic vegetable plots and started cultivating the first fruits, vegetables and herbs. Since then, the project has successfully expanded and grown. In 2010, the garden opened up a café, it presented itself at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai and received the Utopia-Award 2010. The garden’s own restaurant opened in 2011, and in 2012 the project – and its 30,000 supporters – even managed, or rather had to manage, defending the lot against the city’s attempt to sell the property. Following this, they were granted another five year lease in 2014. Between April and October more than 60,000 people visited the garden, with around 2,500 people taking part in guided tours, around 1,000 volunteers helping with maintaining the garden. As well as this, 20-30 people come regularly, or are employed by the garden, in order to ensure the organisation of the garden, the café, the restaurant and the various educational programmes.