Solawi Waldgarten – connecting urban citizens with farmers

ernteThe Solawi Waldgarten initiative is a form of community supported agriculture (CSA) which started in 2013 and currently provides food for around 60 people in the city of Berlin. The farm itself is situated around 100 km northwest of Berlin. The urban consumers bear the costs of an agricultural operation and get the harvest in return, so they are directly linked to the farmer. They can pick up their share at three central distribution points in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg once a week. This minimizes transport routes. Also, the emission of greenhouse gases are reduced throughout the process compared to international and global food production chains.

What does community-supported agriculture mean?

ernte_moehren_3The consumers pay a monthly contribution (currently 80€, depending on their financial situation) and are asked to help on the farm at least once a year. Furthermore, they collectively decide upon future financial investments of the farm and take over certain tasks like organizing the yearly general assemblies. This creates a community beyond food provision and reconnects urban citizens with food production. Moreover, the farmer is independent from intermediate dealers who usually put financial pressure on farms to produce for a minimum of costs usually harming the agricultural operation as well as the natural resources.

How is the food produced?

In the peri-urban area of Berlin, the farmer Frank Wesemann and his helpers cultivate 5.2 ha of farmland and 3 ha of forest. The cultivated forest provided the initiative’s name as ‘Waldgarten’ which translates to ‘forest garden’. The amount and composition of the products depend on the season and harvest, but so called polytunnels allow for harvest throughout the whole year.

The cultivation follows traditional and organic methods, which prohibits the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The farmer also follows the principles of permaculture. Thus, the stability, diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems is achieved through the creation of sustainable, natural and holistic cycles. This includes, but is not limited to the practice of special agricultural methods as well as a sustainable use of resources on the site and the promotion of biodiversity. Those principles are shared with the consumers and other interested farmers in the region and thereby provides an educational aspect as well.

Author: Gregor van der Wall
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