This growing season three friends and I shared a plot at a community garden, and not just any community garden, but Bauerngarten – a brilliant, amazing, dream-come-true community garden. The genius behind this project is a young man named Max. I want to share his model with the world because I think it is so remarkable. I guess he went to school to be a farmer, along with the other folks who work for the project. He wanted to do something that connected urban people to farming. He looked at the biggest expenses in farming – harvesting, transportation and marketing – and developed a model that eliminated these expenses.
Here’s how it works. We pay to have a wedge shaped bed in a circular garden plot. We go to regular workshops where they tell us what to do. At the first workshop, the ground has already been tilled and the seeds and baby plants are already in, planted in a spiral so that the beds in our wedge alternate with clover paths. We spend about 2 to 4 hours a week hoeing and weeding. The beds are watered by an automatic sprinkler at the center of the circle. As the season goes on, we harvest and then reseed or put in baby plants where there are holes. The Bauerngarten team provides the seeds and plant starts. There’s a big box full of tools, so all we have to bring is garden gloves and bags to take our veggies home in. For €100 and time spent in a garden, I harvested more than enough herbs and vegetables for my household.
Besides the camaraderie and the veggies, I really enjoyed the education and guidance on dealing with plant problems. Because the whole thing is under the supervision of expert farmers, they can come up with a strategy for dealing with a pest or disease, and then that can be implemented throughout the whole garden. I hear that last year there was an infestation of carrot fly, so they had everyone pull their carrots early. This year there was cabbage moth, so all the first-round cabbages had to come out a little early. It makes for a style of gardening that is gracefully pesticide-free, one that is accessible for novices and yet benefits from expertise and experience – a beautiful expression of the spiral of life. I feel so grateful to be a part of it!