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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 Mai 2019 · NEUBAU EYEWEAR
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