Is permaculture independent of religion

09.04.2021 09:44

"Our PermaKulturIsinsel should become a model for Frankfurt"

Pia Barth Public Relations and Communication
Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

Vegetable garden, green oasis, research facility and place of education: the new campus gardens of the Goethe University should offer far more than just harvesting fruit and vegetables. To this end, students have teamed up with the Goethe’s Green Office initiative, the university’s science garden, the AStA and the “PermaKulturIsinsel” working group of the vegetable heroes and the Frankfurt Nutrition Council.

Pick a head of lettuce after work on the Westend campus in the evening? To do this, harvest strawberries, potatoes and pumpkins and pick herbs? Weed weeds together with other city dwellers, enjoy watering holes, wildflowers and vegetable patches? What sounds completely magical will soon become a reality with the university's commitment to PermaKulturIsinsel on campus.

"As a biologist, I am of course particularly pleased about the initiative of our students and have also emphatically supported them," said Prof. Enrico Schleiff, President of the Goethe University, welcoming the project. “The permaculture gardens not only offer very specific local solutions to global environmental problems and help us to do further research. They also show beautifully how university and city are connected: through young people with creative ideas and the determination to implement these ideas on site, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the university. "

The students have already taken the first steps on the way to the PermaKulturIsinsel with the Vegetable Heroes and the Nutrition Council, both supported by the association BIONALES eV - Citizens for Regional Agriculture and Food: Concepts have been devised for the overgrown campus areas, beds have been planted, seeds in the ground brought and young plants attracted - that the organically certified kohlrabi "Enrico" creates a loose connection with his name to the university president is quite intentional. The students were supported by Robert Anton, the director of the science garden and university contact for the campus gardens. "With his help, the areas could be prepared in good time before the bird protection," says campus gardener Silas Büse happily. “Now we are incredibly happy to be able to take action. The project is already very well received by many students. "

The university has currently made 800 square meters on the Riedberg and 2,000 square meters on the Westend campus available for permaculture. In other words: for highly productive edible ecosystems that function permanently. To achieve this, traditional methods are combined with the latest scientific findings. Or in the words of Juliane Ranck and Laura Setzer, the founders of the “Vegetable Heroes”: “In permaculture, every element is placed in such a way that it can develop optimally.” This applies to everyone involved in the system: plants, animals, humans and their surroundings.

Diversity counts: For the campus gardens this means "that existing habitats are supplemented with suitable elements - such as fruit trees, wild fruit bushes, deadwood hedges, compost, vegetable patches or wetlands", explains Moritz Schmitthenner from Goethe's Green Office, a student of political science and sociology. “Marsh marigolds, for example, stand under shady fruit trees next to Mediterranean vegetables and fragrant herb spirals.” The campus gardeners know that maximum biodiversity in a minimum of space can be up to ten times more productive than conventional organic farming. And: “The aesthetics of this biodiverse natural spectacle alone have a special value and can be incredibly beneficial for people's well-being. That in turn also has an economic and social value, ”says Silas Büse.

In general, the team, which now has more than 40 members, is very well trained: Many “vegetable heroines” have attended international courses on permaculture and market gardening and are currently completing the base year of the three-year training course as permaculture designers; The fact that extensive mulching is the order of the day in the garden instead of digging is now part of her basic knowledge. Other campus gardeners contribute knowledge from natural science courses. "In our studies we learn what goes wrong in agriculture, for example, and how it has a lasting impact on our earth," says environmental scientist Silas Büse. Urban PermaKulturIsinsel therefore also means looking for ways out of the “wrong” and finding constructive solutions. With the university project, it goes without saying that it is scientifically supported - currently, for example, through environmental analysis of soil quality and chemical pollution. All steps in the garden development are meticulously documented so that the project can catch on. “We want our edible islands in Frankfurt to become a model project that other cities and universities can serve as a model,” say the campus gardeners.

What happens on campus should have an impact on the city. And the team approaches this methodically. From Miquelallee in the direction of the Westend campus, a banner several meters wide will soon be able to be read: “City vegetables: Frankfurt students are growing”. Residents of the Riedberg have already offered to help with the gardens that are growing in front of their houses, and a kindergarten near the Westend campus garden has expressed interest in regular visits. Active curiosity is entirely in the interests of the campus gardeners, who already have “educational transfer” on their agenda. Courses for all ages are to be offered in the campus gardens. Everyone can participate and harvest. Inclusion is also considered when, for example, raised beds are to be created for people in wheelchairs. The miniature model of a PermaKulturIsland will shortly make the project known at the exhibition “Gärtnern Jetzt” in the Historical Museum. And on June 24th, the book by Laura Setzer and Juliane Ranck will be published: “Urban Farming. Growing vegetables, gardening together, creating food sovereignty ”.

Financing is also considered. The Frankfurt Food Council is already supporting the project, and an application for further funding has been submitted to the State of Hesse. In order to keep costs as low as possible, the campus gardeners take the obvious in line with permaculture: What is already there? What can we use? Where is there “waste” that can be brought into a cycle? The municipal waste disposal company (FES) supplies the PermaKulturInsel on the Westend campus with high-quality compost and wood chips, while the island on the Riedberg benefits from the green waste in the science garden. “We still need a lot of berry bushes,” says campus gardener and philosophy student Emil Unkrig. "We would be very happy about donations in kind!"

From kohlrabi “Enrico” to climate change - in addition to working with soil and spades, the PermaKulturIsinsel is about the big picture: “We want to realize a positive vision,” says Juliane Ranck. The first steps on the way there begin here and now, on the campuses of the Goethe University.

Scientific contact:

[email protected] (contact for Campus Westend and Campus Riedberg)

[email protected] (contact for Campus Riedberg)

Features of this press release:
Biology, nutrition / health / care, pedagogy / education, environment / ecology
Colorful science