Renting an acre for city dwellers
Not a trend, a movement
Gardening offers relaxation in the fresh air and ensures vegetables from one's own cultivation. For many city dwellers, this often remains a dream. "Yet in these fast-paced and hectic times, in the face of current crises and supply fears, the need for closeness to nature, regionality and sustainability is growing. The desire to have sovereignty over one's own plate has never been greater," explains Wanda Ganders. When she founded the "meine ernte" initiative in 2009 together with Natalie Kirchbaumer, they started with six rental gardens. They now have 30 locations across Germany. "It's not a trend. It's a megatrend, maybe even a movement," the trained economist says of the demand.
Renting your own field - possible even without gardening experience
But what if you have no idea about growing vegetables? Wanda smiles: "That's fine. We want to reach out to those who have no experience. Working people who want to take a break from the daily grind of the office, senior citizens who shy away from the responsibilities of an allotment garden, families who want to show their children where the chips come from. Friends looking for a shared hobby are also part of our gardening community."
"meine ernte" works with local farms - the farmers dig up, fertilize, sow and plant the field. "With that, the most physically difficult work is already done at the beginning. For the rest, we take you by the hand," Wanda says. There are garden newsletters, WhatsApp groups, lots of help on the homepage, by phone and by mail. At the start of the season at the end of April or beginning of May, the founders personally invite everyone to the opening event. Here, the garden neighbors get to know each other and their vegetable fields.
What vegetables can you grow yourself?
Around 20 types of vegetables are sown on the rented field, including classics such as potatoes, onions, beans, carrots, lettuces, kohlrabi and peas. Rarer crops such as chard, a special May turnip or edible flowers are also included. You can grow your favorite vegetables on a small "wish bed."
"Now the journey to conscious nutrition begins," says the Bavarian native, who now lives in the Rhineland with her husband and children. Two or three weeks after the start of the season, the first radishes and lettuces can already be harvested. The spinach, beans and sugar snap peas follow. "Then in June and July it's harvest high time, now you can come two to three times a week to harvest." Few know that one zucchini plant can yield 20 to 30 zucchini and the potato crop can yield about 20 to 30 pounds in a good year. Not to mention Hokkaido squash. "Harvested vegetables from your own field taste very different than vegetables from the supermarket. There's a special magic to seasonality," Wanda enthuses.
Many little vacation moments
Contrary to some preconceptions, she says, a rental garden means no more time or financial commitment than any other hobby. "Except that, in addition, you go home with baskets full of vegetables," Wanda adds. Weeding at the beginning of the season takes up most of the time, she says: "Like two to three hours a week, gladly at a stretch." After that, he says, the effort diminishes and the bulk of the gardening consists of harvesting.
"You also don't need to water constantly. The more the plants rely on rain, the deeper they root." A head of lettuce, for example, can root 30 inches deep into the soil and a head of cabbage about 50 inches, he said. "It's almost always moist there. And onions should not be watered at all, because they rot easily," Wanda informs. If one is sometimes prevented, vegetable neighbors, friends and family can take over the care, watering and harvesting during that time. "That works out very well." So no one needs to fear for their vacation. Wanda grins, "On the contrary - gardening gives valuable time off from everyday life. So there are lots of little vacation moments."
The Green Living theme world at the Green Week informs consumers about a wide range of topics relating to a healthy lifestyle and the sustainable use of food and resources.