Associated with Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Freie Universität Berlin

First Science Café in Berlin

For the Science Café, we cooperated with Futurium, a new exhibition and event venue that has not yet officially opened. The Futurium organised workshop weeks on the question: “How do we want to live?” In this context the Science Café took place on June 3 on the topic “Save the world with the tomato on the balcony?”

Berlin's urban gardening scene is flourishing, but the idea is not new; even in the pre and post-war period and in the GDR, a lot of food was grown in the city for personal use. At the moment the garden movement is in competition with urgently needed apartments and there are plans to reduce the garden areas in favour of the construction of new apartments. Therefore, we discussed, above all, the justification and value of urban gardening.

We talked about whether the new trend of producing food in cities (combined with urban gardening, the renaissance of allotments, and the edible city) can contribute to a healthier, more regional and more seasonal diet, but also to sustainable urban development. How effective can urban gardening be? Does it help the local and global climate?

Discussion at Berlin science cafe

Photo credit: Jonathan Augustin

Our discussion partners on the podium were an agricultural scientist doing research on this topic, an urban gardening representative, an allotment gardener and GDR contemporary witness, and an artist who deals with material cycles and composting.

The allotment gardener, who has been gardening for decades, said that allotments were used in the GDR to close supply gaps and supply the population with fruit and vegetables. The food produced there was even sold in shops. Today, however, the focus is on ecological gardening and the gardeners strive to garden in a climate-friendly way and to promote biodiversity. All discussion partners emphasised the importance of urban greens and the important role of urban gardening for social, ecological and climate concerns, but also for the appreciation of self-produced food. 

In addition to the experts, 25 visitors came who were even more interested in ecological issues and the effects of urban greenery in the fight against climate change than in the nutritional aspect of urban gardening.

Other science cafés on preservation of food and bees and pollination will follow in August and September.