Kulturlandschaften was a participative urban gardening project by Meike Schalk & Erika Mayr together with Donne Nissà for Summer Drafts, in Bolzano, 3-11 July 2010.

Donne Nissà is a grassroots association of and for migrant women, http://www.nissa.bz.it , who engage in a number of activities such as giving legal advice, supporting women working in the care sector, running a kindergarten, and a number of cultural projects that deal with multiculturalism such as theater, literature, café, and course activities. Donne Nissà is based in the district of Don Bosco where they obtained the permission to re-cultivate a part of 1000 sqm of overgrown public land for community gardening, at Via Bari off Via Alessandria.

For more information on Don Bosco, see: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Bosco_(Bolzano)

Summer Drafts involves various migrant and civil society associations based in Bolzano. Every year a number of international guests, artists, activists, and theoreticians who work in a participatory way are invited to spend a period between 7-10 days to work in collaboration with one or more organizations around a set of issues that are identified through a common process, http://www.summerdrafts.org

Urban gardening is a way of caring for nature and communities. The reasons to start are as diverse as the people who have a passion for it. Gardening not only enables to grow and harvest own fruits and vegetables, it also brings individuals together to share knowledge, their products, tools, and work, and to enjoy. People involved in gardening often experience closer relationships to their surroundings when they grow, cook, and harvest their own food together. Growing food in the city gives back the responsibility for ground, nature, and production processes.



The wonderful garden one month after it started... scroll down and read how it all began.........


honey breakfast

Our collaborative garden workshop was introduced with a honey breakfast at Donne Nissà.

...with home-baked bread, and "Stadtbienenhonig" from Berlin. With the honey breakfast the idea of a bee economy was introduced to the urban garden. See also: http://www.stadtbienenhonig.com .

After breakfast we explored the plot for the garden and the adjacent neighborhood.

suggestion: we propose the honey breakfast as a regular open event such as every first Saturday of a month making it a recurrent ritual. The honey breakfast gives space for wishes and feedback; it enables common time spent to design the garden, distribute responsibilities, agree on maintenance schedules and regular opening hours for the urban garden, plan social gatherings such as garden parties, is a forum for democratic decision-making, and will create a community. The honey breakfast establishes best when members of the group rotationally host a breakfast at Donne Nissa or other spaces, where they send out invitations, make food, create a welcoming atmosphere. Newcomers can drop-in, and get to know other participants. The honey breakfast is announced in the local paper.

garden visions

During a collage workshop we envisioned a future for the urban garden. It was important to us to reflect on individual as well as collective parts. We brainstormed on our various ideas concerning different elements, garden layouts, common spaces for play and relaxation, and the distribution of responsibilities, economical considerations, a timeline, keeping animals, social networks, and future activities announcing the urban garden in the neighborhood and the city.

a potato tower; vegetables and herbs; sand for the children to play; bees in the future.

a promenade of a pergola of fruit trees and berry bushes, and a creek surrounding the plot; flowers, fruits and vegetables; places to sit, and places to play for kids and animals.

a lagoon-type aquarium with a fountain for fishes and for diving; an aviary for birds; terraces with large flowering cactus trees, sunflowers, and a bee house.

a herb and flower spiral, vegetables, salads, water, animals, a romantic and wild garden according to male/ female principles.

paths and walls made of found materials; a lawn; terraces planted with a mixture of flowers and vegetables; compost; places to relax, places for children.

a big tree; birds, bees and flying animals; an outdoor kitchen with a barbecue and tables as a place for conversation.

symbiosis: distinguishing various areas for common use; bees for pollination and observation will produce a shared product; flowers for bouquets; a vineyard for giving shade; trees and a meadow; a cafe for attracting the public to the garden; financial concept: commonly produced honey, juice, seeds, flowers, fruits and marmalade can be consumed and sold in the cafe, and given as gifts to neighbors for establishing friendly relationships.

establishing a social network through a practice of common gardening; marking the entrance of the garden with a banner for visibility, accessibility, and information; creating seating places in the shade for meetings with nice meals together; creating cyclic economies with bees - pollination (honey) - plants - vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruits (market) - food (cafe, restaurant) - waste - compost involving the school, kinder garden, and senior club.

suggestion: we propose regular sessions for collecting ideas for the garden. Making collages is associative, easy and fun to do; it enables visible results quickly; collages inspire others, and communicate also non-verbal values such as atmospheres through images. Honey breakfasts and vision workshops enable the making of collective spaces.

Visit to the beekeeper

Visit to the beekeeper Doris Putz Vieider in Girlan.

Doris and her husband tend 90 colonies and rear their own queens for 25 years. Most of the colonies are up in the mountains to fly in the good honey of the "Alpenrose".

suggestion: animal husbandry is an important part of urban agriculture. Since the practice with animals such as bees, chickens, goats etc is not commonly known it is important to visit farmers that work with animals to learn and experience regularly. This takes the fear away and shows how intimate the relationship between people and their animals can be. Accordingly it connects and builds up relationships with farmers, as it is always useful to have the possibility to ask questions during the farming year.

Bees are important for pollination. Beekeeping on a mirco economic scale furthers a common product for the gardening community. It can be shared, given as presents, and sold through nearby shops, cafes and restaurants as a local product. Contacts to local beekeepers can be found through: http://www.suedtirolerimker.it .

recognizing areas of interest

On our way to the garden we received useful material from a building site.

Before starting to clean the site we marked plants we found and wanted to include in the urban garden such as the herb artemisia, small elm trees, a young ash maple tree, and a wild butterfly bush.

In Bolzano, public gardening areas or allotment garden plots are traditionally given to elderly people. Before all elderly men are interested in gardening. We visited the allotment gardens adjacent to Via Sarentino.

We explored the illegal gardens close to Don Bosco's new development area

Our collages were exhibited at Lungomare,
www.lungomare.org .

suggestion: reevaluate what you find, make space for what you plan, and ask yourself what is needed to get closer to what you want to achieve. Establish friendly relationships and supportive networks by asking for help and donations for the urban garden. Collect knowledge about gardens and gardening, concerning legal status, layouts, and geotechnical data by exploring existing examples and talking to other gardeners. Our most inspiring model of an urban garden is Prinzessinengärten in Berlin, a mobile neighborhood garden on 6000 qm off Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg with a café. See: http://prinzessinnengarten.net . Information about intercultural gardens with advice how to set one up can be found under: http://www.stiftung-interkultur.de .

sharing knowledge

Today 5 cubic meter compost arrived, which Hilary had ordered from ECOROTT, a company who transforms food waste from households in Bolzano into compost, http://www.ecorott.it .

In discussion with Thomas we built a model bed of 2 x 2 meters. Revitalizing urban land needs certain techniques that are locally adjusted. In our case there were not many trees yet, but mostly strong grasses, which all need to be taken out where there will be the planting areas - Erika believes. According to Thomas, in Bolzano where the climate is drier than in Berlin it was possible to simply build on top. Half of the first bed was constructed according to a Berlin practice - a hard work, especially with 38 degrees in the shade - the rest and a second bed was built without cleaning. We will see what happens. We did not examine the soil, but believe it is not polluted. So we put 40 cm compost on top; by the time this will shrink to 30 cm planting space. We used the system of upper beds, which were fixed with wooden planks, wood and metal sticks. The beds can be divided so that everyone can start planting with one square meter each. There is enough wood and compost for four upper beds 200 x 200 x 40 cm.

We tested and discussed different layouts for the garden and placements for the upper beds.

Other elements in the garden were the found butterfly bush, which became part of Antonio and Irene's herb and flower spiral, areas with found Artemisia, little Elm trees, and a young maple leaf ash tree at the entrance to the park; as well as planned terraces with flowers and vegetables along the axis of an artificial hill from rubble of demolished houses. A service area with water and compost is planned to the right, close to the park entrance.

A documentary filmmaker commissioned by Summer Drafts visited the garden project.
suggestion: documenting different gardening practices in a garden diary or blog will work like a manual or guide book for all participants. A garden blog, which inspires us is: http://prinzessinnengarten.net , of Prinzessinnengärten in Berlin, a neighborhood garden off Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg. In a blog or open diary you can put down intentions, thoughts, and practices, and see developments. Documenting them as an open source will inform others about the garden who might want to join, and helps those who are interested in starting an urban garden themselves; they can learn from this example. Good public relations are important for maintaing the garden, for receiving funds, donations, and support. Local radio and television stations should be contacted to report about the urban garden project so that more people become aware of it. ...................................................click on "Older Posts" below for continuing.