Every year, we plant our balcony, and we seem to be on the right track when you look at our haul. Gorgeous tomatoes, numerous cucumbers, herbs, salads, colorful carrots, beets, and radishes, peas, zucchini, and last year, we even harvested a basket full of eggplants from our balcony. And we really have little knowledge of trucking. As you see, so far, we were just lucky. We definitely wanted to change that and for this year, planned to do some sort of internship at a nursery. Spread over the whole year, we want to help out for a few days to get an insight in the everyday course of action. We found the perfect nursery incidentally. Do you remember our trip to Rensow? There, we heard from „Grete’s Gärtnerei“ for the first time. In a small village in Mecklenburg, two hours from Berlin, Grete has her eco nursery with seed growing and vegetable sale with a rural and sustainable production. A lot of handiwork is needed to grow the old breeds, for which Grete fell especially. Helping hands are always welcome, and now in spring, there is especially a lot to do. The vegetables have to be sowed for the season, or are even ready to be pricked and planted.
On Sunday noon, we were led to the greenhouse after a short tour across the farm.
The warm sun rays had to be exploited, since a lot of small tomato plants were waiting to be pricked. We are not talking about 50, 100, or 500 delicate small plants, but about several thousand.
Grete grows about 60 old breed of tomatoes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Wicked! We were also pretty surprised that Grete left us alone after a short briefing – there was enough other work for her to do. For us, this was a huge mark of confidence, since we were now responsible for the wellbeing of quite some of her plants, and therefore for the later harvest.
We spent some hours or days with Pilu, Oeuf de Pigeon, Orange Banana, Green Zebra, Black Cherry, Friesje, Pernau Orange, Danko, Black Plum, Kariolle, Negro Azteca, Dikaja Rosa, Guernsey Island, Bianca Cherry, Persimon and what else they are called. The pricking had such a soothing effect on us, we were always pretty surprised how much we had done when we looked up to get new plants, potting compost or water. The whole climate in the greenhouse led us into another world. It was gorgeous to come from the cold, windy, partly rainy outside into this warm coziness and to smell the wet earth. Immediately, we were comfortable.
Seven years after founding the nursery, a team of seven cultivates seven hectares meadow lands. Quit a lot of sevens. One hectare is mainly used for seed production, two more hectares are used for vegetable growing.
The farm is part of the network Solidarische Landwirtschaft (Solidary Farming), which means, a bigger group of people is affiliated to a farmer for a vegetable supply community. The group guarantees a certain purchase, the cultivation is financed in advance, and the harvest and risks shared. This way, Grete has a stable income she can count on and hire more workers, for example. As a member of this group, you can influence the way of doing the business and production plans, get an insight into the production and, of course, take part in it. Since the group shares the arising expense, the farming is independent from market prices and can be realized the way farming should be: ecological, close to nature and resource saving. In Berlin, there is the group “Kiez & Land” in Schöneberg, Treptow and Pankow. The groups are supplied with fresh harvest once a week by Grete. For further information, please check www.kiezundland.wordpress.com
During our internship, we lived in one of the two studios in the garden. Grete’s boyfriend Jörg transformed the historic horse barn into a very special building. It houses the summer kitchen as well as the farm shop and, as a central new element, a walled garden. Every summer, it is designed in a new way by landscape artists. We dream of setting up a large festive table in late summer or fall, illuminated by fairy lights and muffled by the smell of grilled vegetables.
By the way, Grete and Jörg are both artists, which is probably the reason why they game for every idea. It is so much fun to fool around and to admire their projects. Their cordiality and creativity are incredibly awesome and contagious.
You suddenly feel like gardening? Grete does not only offer our pricked tomatoes, but also open air suitable paprika, physalis and other young vegetable plants at some markets. For example, you can stop by in Berlin on 22.04. from 10-18h in Markthalle Neun.
We are looking forward to returning to the farm in June and are curious how our babies developed since our last visit.