Before Karls Garten, there was just a lawn. And three trees. The lawn was often wet, so people wouldn’t sit there. Then, a group of people started Karls Garten, Vienna’s first observation and research garden for urban farming in the very heart of the city, with the support of long time unemployed people, three years ago.
The whole thing is organized by a non-profit organization that is also doing research in cooperation with the TU Wien and BOKU Wien. They test how vegetables grow in a highly frequented urban area with lots of traffic around, and how heavy metals, particulates and fine dust strain the plants’ growth.
A DAY AT KARLS GARTEN
Every year in early February, the organization starts fundraising so that they can start the gardening season in May. This involves lots of social media work, trying to find companies who may be interested in their work and asking them for support.
At the same time, Karls Garten is approached by external people and organizations who want to try something new and green in the middle of the city – such as Vertical Magic Garden, the first free standing green wall in public space in Vienna, and the people from Smartes Hochbeet, a smart high-raised bed working autarchically.
Every once in a while, Karls Garten hosts the “Gardening Days” – inviting all their friends and everyone who wants to join us, to just have a good afternoon, doing garden work and of course share some food and drinks.
Food production and food supply are very import topics, especially in highly densed urban areas. This is why Karls Garten also organizes field trips for children and youngsters, telling them how to grow vegetables in the cities, demonstrating their bee hives and bringing them closer to the basic topics of food supply in cities.
The organization also hosts workshops for refugees, who they invite to participate within one of the „Gardening days“, and it is strongly supported by various organizations who try to put Urban Gardening and urban food production on the map again.
SO WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ALL THIS?
Karls Garten made something out of nothing. Today, located just next to the Technical University Wien, lots of students as well as tourists and local residents are just using the space again. When you talk about Karls Garten in the city, everybody knows where and what it is.
The non-profit tried to generate a space where everybody can come and stay, is able to consume their own goods and just have a good time. And at the same time they try to show and teach visitors about urban food production and all the possibilities going with it. The people from Karls Garten continuously try to engage with people who want to improve life in cities. It’s open to the public 24 hours a day. Anybody can visit us any time.
Karls Garten has created a unique form of cooperation and friendships. We really love this project and are excited about what it could bring and develop into in the future!