Fertile Land: Developers Eying Berlin's Squat Garden Success Story
In Berlin, one of the largest and most loved community gardens, The Prinzessinnengarten (Princess Gardens), is facing eviction. In 2009, Robert Shaw and Marco Clausen of the nonprofit Nomadic Green, mobilized friends, activists and neighbors in the Moritzplatz area of Kreuzberg to transform what was then an urban wasteland into a lush mobile garden, ecological farm, café, and restaurant. Since then, the space, which was unused for half a century hidden in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, has become a social hub where nearly 50,000 people a year of all ages and backgrounds come together, to not only enjoy the gardening community, but also for education and entertainment.
The produce—all grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers—is available for sale, and is used in dishes at the on-site café and restaurant. The founders hope their project will teach locals and visitors ways to combat climate change, raise awareness around healthy eating, sustainable living, and a “future-oriented urban lifestyle.” They’ve also extended this vision, helping to build 16 offshoot gardens around Berlin.
Because the area is leased from the city on a temporary one year basis, all of the gardening is done in mobile planting beds, designed to be moved around if need be. Now, the founders fear a permanent displacement: the city is looking to sell the plot of land that The Prinzessinnengarten sits on to high paying investors. That would shut down this re-imagined urban space. Talks are already underway with buyers to take over the plot, which would suffer the loss of 13 full-time jobs and thousands of hours of volunteer time—a huge blow to the neighborhood.
To help secure the garden’s continued existence, a petition has been started. It still needs 3,500 new signatures, so sign it today to make sure this “mini utopia” stays in existence to feed and inspire for years to come.
Photos courtesy of The Prinzessinnengarten