Readings on Remediation

A  couple of years ago when visiting Berlin where my older daughter lives, she told me about community garden known as Prinzessinnengarten or Princess Garden.  In 2009,  a community garden was started in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, reclaimed from an industrial, wasteland area that had been unused and abused for half a century. To combat the problem of  the barren soil coupled with the possibility that the city could reclaim the land at any time all the plants were grown in mobile containers.  Not only has the city turned a brown space to green, but Prinzessinnengarten has become a center for community education about gardening and sustainability and a melting pot for Berlin's diverse population. This link has a short film (in English) that tells a more complete story.

Neukin_headstonesI was unable to visit the original Prinzessinnengarten while I was there, but I did get a tour of its sister site that has recently been opened in an old church graveyard in the Neukölln borough. Navigating complicated civil and religious rules, the non-profit company Nomadic Green, which spearheads these reclamation efforts pulled up gravestones (nothing fresh) and the site is being turned into another community garden site as well. Again mobility is part of the design of the space.

Inspired,  I have begun to try to remediate an eroded, barren patch of rocky hillside that butts up to the development where I live.  Fortunately being here at Destination: Books  I have ready access to gardening and environmental books to consult. 

  • Leah Penniman devotes a whole chapter to "Restoring Degraded Land" in her book Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. Pulling in techniques from throughout the globe, she writes about how soil contaminated with lead can be restored (sunflowers can pull out lead) and details on how terracing can stop soil erosion. 
  • LawnsmeadowOther books can be useful too. In Lawns Into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape, Owen Wormers and illustrator Kristen Thompson dedicate an entire chapter to profile over 20 flowers and grasses that turn your ecological, havoc-wreaking lawn into an organic meadows. Black-eyed Susans and sunflowers appear to be likely candidates that might work on my project because they like sun and can handle poor soil. (I have a lot of that). Moreover, both flowers attract pollinators. 
  • And for those who want to deep drive into soil regeneration Nigel Palmer's The Regenerative Grower's Guide to Garden Amendments provides detailed recipes for "greater soil biological activity  and mineral availability, and increase pest and disease resistance yields, and nutrient density."

All three books will be available for browsing/scrutinizing when Destination: Books returns to the Freedom Farmer's Market at the Carter Center on Saturday morning, April 24, 2021.   In the meantime, as you can see from the photo below, I have plenty of work to do.  Because of  the threat of heavy rain, our next FFM gig has been  moved to May 1, 2021.Backerosion







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