Many neighbourhoods in cities have libraries but not many have an urban garden as part of the library. In Berlin-Mitte, right in the centre of the city, an urban garden has been developed within the library of the neighbourhood. Numerous urban gardens are sprouting in the city for a reason. Berlin, one of the best cities for culture, is making urban gardening part of its own city culture.
Since 2013, the traditional library in the Berlin-Mitte Kiez, (a concept of neighbourhood very specific to Berlin) has developed into a green educational location or Green Library, as they called it. In addition to the usual cultural offers of a library, there is an information centre related to the urban gardening project next door called ‘Wachsen lassen’ (in English, Let it grow).
Its founder, Gabriela, as well as other people working and volunteering in the garden, are very proud of this beautiful green oasis right in the middle of the city.
The good mood in the garden after a long winter is overwhelming. Everything has been set up for the new season. Everybody has a task in this well-organised urban garden.
Neighbours, kids of the elementary schools nearby as well as residents in the Elisabeth Hospital are witnesses to this lively place which is making a difference to the community. ‘This Kiez faces many social challenges relating to prostitution and urban migration’, explains one of the workers of the garden. The connection of people with nature is key to healthy urban living, especially for those kids with difficult backgrounds.
‘Everybody is welcome to the garden’, says Gabriela. ‘We organise workshops with kids in collaboration with the schools. They come to the garden to explore the different types of vegetables and follow the whole process until harvest’. There is also a special area in the garden for kids to do their own garden work.
A special attraction is the self-made rental seedling at the library, where seeds can be borrowed and returned after their own harvest.
As a complement to the lessons on urban gardening, this ‘Green Library’ puts together information events on sustainability and repair and do-it-yourself workshops.
This innovative library couldn’t be in any other city but Berlin. The fact that an urban garden is part of a library gives a sense of how urban gardening and the connection with nature is becoming an essential part of the culture of Berlin and its citizens.