The children were our main collaborators. Together, we dug up the soil and enriched it with topsoil (or, as we say in German, Mutterboden – ‘mother-soil’), which was donated by Lutz Gericke, a farmer in Rudow. We planted lettuce seedlings, which we had cultivated on the 15th-floor terrace of the ZUsammenKUNFT building. Also, in new raised garden beds, we planted flowers that had been donated by flower shops. Thus an embryonic urban farm was created, which we hope will be expanded next year. The gardening weekend was characterized by a spirit of sharing and exchange. The previous week, residents had collected empty water bottles and milk cartons, which now became pots for the flowers that the children and their mothers took home. Also during the weekend, two children in a workshop at the Refugee Academy at ZUsammenKUNFT came up with the idea to start a Trash Recycling Training project, an example of how to turn a problem into a solution. Most importantly, parents and grandparents joined in during the gardening days. We knew this was an important moment – the community had approved the garden and was making it their own. Gardening, after all, creates a social space where children can play and parents can relax and talk with friends and neighbours. It thus becomes part of the place-making process that refugees vitally need. Ultimately, the garden at the ZUsammenKUNFT is a community garden, a living room in the city, and ZUsammenKUNFT is an example of social architecture.
A collection of stories and reflections that changed our way of thinking during the gardening days:
● Tee Kay: “Do not work alone. This is a social project!” ● At ZUsammenKUNFT, the elevators are slow. Waiting for the elevator, however, can have an added value – it gives you a chance to talk with fellow passengers. ● Gardening means not only taking care of plants but also having tea with the residents. ● It seems like there are a lot of people living at Stresemannstrasse 95-97 who I have no connection with, but in fact, after being there a few times, I found myself greeting residents in the street. ● Before the garden, the site seemed to be merely decorative landscaping that residents enjoyed looking at from high above. Now, they use the site.