by Adrian Franco, LMU and Environmental Studies Certificate Program Student
Which spaces at our university provide the right kind of ground for gardening? How does urban farming work, and is it realistically achievable? How can we develop an understanding of the plants we eat by growing them ourselves? Fruitful discussions as part of the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Certificate Program inspired us to bring our ideas and thoughts literally into the field. What had started as academic dialogue led a group of us renting and cultivating a plot at Fasanerie, on the outskirts of Munich.
Our Own Little Garden
Located between suburban houses and cornfields, the lot (allotment, or “Schrebergarten” in German) that we were allocated was 40 square meters in size. Farmers had already sown rows of spinach, carrots, and beetroot when we took over the plot in April. We quickly started planting our own salads, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. May and June brought hot weather and required constant watering, but the first greens were ready to harvest in a few weeks and weeds began to grow. In July we couldn’t wait to pick all the peas and beans—a wall of flowers guarding the edge of the plot from intruders. In August the cornfield on the other side overtook ours in height—our neighbors’ tomatoes grew and turned red—and we were feeding an army of birds with our sunflower seeds.
Greening the Campus
The project left us thinking about the built environments that we experience on a daily basis—the university grounds, with its prominent buildings and public places constructed and experienced unchanged from before. What about current ecological urban design and inclusive practices? A really green vision of LMU could take this changed perspective to hitherto neglected spaces, using rooftops, corridors, and courtyards to farm vegetables and flowers, and transform anonymous learning environments into areas of encounter and communication. Who knows what interesting conversations might be cultivated through the connection of both books and aubergines?
If you’re interested in taking part in the Krautgarten project or would like further information, email Adrian Franco at Franco.Adrian@campus.lmu.de.