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How ‘Salatpiraten’ Are Rethinking Urban Gardening

We spoke with green-thumb Georg Demmer of Vienna-based community garden group Salatpiraten on how we can contribute to a greener future

As our cli­mate changes and our pop­u­la­tion grows, our cities expand, con­fin­ing green spaces to less and less of the urban land­scape. It is clear that we must find new ways to exist side by side with nature, or else, suf­fer the con­se­quences. It seems that it is up to the younger gen­er­a­tions, whose future stands at the front­line in the bat­tle against cli­mate change, to find new ways for us to exist – sym­bi­ot­i­cal­ly – with nature.

The team behind Salat­pi­rat­en, an ever-expand­ing urban design and gar­den­ing project which we at neubau eye­wear are proud to col­lab­o­rate with, con­sists of these like-mind­ed game-changers.

Already instilled with a pas­sion for organ­ic liv­ing and gar­den­ing in gen­er­al, this small group, based in Vienna’s Neubau dis­trict, decid­ed to get their hands dirty and do their part. 

Co-founder Georg Dem­mer and his team have wit­nessed, as in any city, the grad­ual decline of green­ery’ in their neigh­bor­hoods. And so, reach­ing into the earth and into the pock­ets of some like-mind­ed Vien­nese dona­tors, they start­ed one small yet thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty gar­den. Fast for­ward to today and this one gar­den grew into many across the city. 

Of course, this is not a one-spot trend; through­out Europe and beyond, res­i­dents, young and old are now tak­ing the spade into their own hands and par­tic­i­pat­ing in a new, green­er future. Accord­ing to Georg, the Prinzessin­nen­garten in Kreuzberg, Berlin is one of the most beau­ti­ful and serves as a role mod­el when it comes to his own urban gar­den­ing projects;

— ‘[Berlin] also has the major advan­tage of very wide side­walks and it seems the peo­ple there just mod­i­fy pub­lic space more comfortably’.

We got the chance to speak with Georg about his own green com­mu­ni­ty” and what it means for a neigh­bor­hood like Neubau in Vienna.

In 2012 I found a small aban­doned and dirty pub­lic space in Neubau, the most con­cen­trat­ed dis­trict in cen­tral Vien­na next to my lit­tle cowork­ing café. After the idea was born to start a com­mu­ni­ty gar­den I met a group which was in the process of devel­op­ing the con­cept for an urban farm. We formed the Salat­pi­rat­en asso­ci­a­tion and start­ed a legal fund­ing process with the city of Vien­na. In late spring 2013 we start­ed to build the gar­den, which still exists.”

Since then, Salat­pi­rat­en has now re-greened the 7th and the 19th dis­trict of Vien­na, with ambi­tions to do more. Salat­pi­rat­en was found­ed with the knowl­edge that urban agri­cul­ture will be essen­tial if we are to move towards a more sus­tain­able future, but Dem­mer explains this can­not be the only move­ment for change. We must also live more mindfully. 

As a mem­ber of his neigh­bor­hood coop – a food dis­tri­b­u­tion out­let orga­nized as a coop­er­a­tive to source local, organ­ic and sea­son­al­ly pro­duced prod­ucts– Dem­mer has learnt how we can sur­vive with­out sup­port­ing mass production:

I try to reduce waste, with less plas­tic, reusable pack­ag­ing and reg­u­lar com­post­ing”, he even does his own eco­log­i­cal hunt­ing, I process the whole deer myself, from nose to tail”.

Groups like Salat­pi­rat­en and envi­ron­men­tal­ly aware indi­vid­u­als like Georg, are part of an inter­na­tion­al move­ment, inspir­ing oth­ers to be mind­ful of their environment.

Here are some tips, accord­ing to the co-founder him­self, to live more consciously:

  • Know where your food is com­ing from and care about the planet
  • Keep your body fit and do yoga 
  • Reduce social media & read books

If you’re look­ing for some inspi­ra­tion – whether it be for lifestyle or even cook­ing, Dem­mer has some sug­ges­tions. For some Insta­gram inspo, head to @pennyfox.me for some green-thumb advice. If you’re look­ing to start your own gar­den and don’t know which plants to plant first then look no fur­ther than the Aubergine. Accord­ing to Dem­mer, Aubergine is a good all rounder, meal-wise, and also an easy one to grow. 

No mat­ter which plants you are grow­ing in your urban oasis, Dem­mer makes it clear it’s not hard to con­tribute to a green­er future. You can find out more about your local com­mu­ni­ty gar­den groups by doing a quick search online, on Face­book or even Insta­gram… or you can start your own!

15 May 2019 · neubau eyewear