A guest article by Petra Mattheis and Sascha Nau about Annalinde, a non-profit organisation that operates social urban agriculture in the west of Leipzig. There is a community garden and a nursery where vegetables are cultivated close to nature. As part of the Wunderwesten project, they spoke to Ellen Klein in August 2015, who at the time headed the herb working group, among other things.
How did you get to Leipzig?
I was born in Saxony in 1985, but I don’t really remember the GDR. I went to kindergarten in Leipzig/Grünau and later we moved to the countryside in Thuringia. I studied in the old federal states. I studied in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Zurich. I finished my art therapy studies in Stuttgart. I didn’t want to stay there.
Where was I going? Leipzig seemed to me to be a special city. I knew Leipzig from visits, had friends from school here and I knew that I would like that. That was 2010 and indeed I feel very comfortable here. In 2012 I started a second study in social work and finished it last autumn.
Is it a big difference to Stuttgart?
Yes, Stuttgart is a car city. I commuted there, had to take the train to the university. The city is a very dense conurbation. It’s very crowded. And there are things that count that are not so important to me. And that’s what I felt back then. Fortunately, things are different here in Leipzig.
What things do you value?
As a student, I didn’t have that kind of money. I couldn’t participate in as many things as I wanted. I had to restrict myself. It’s much easier in Leipzig. There are not such high barriers as far as participation in public things is concerned.
How did you hear about Annalinde?
That was fun. I moved inside Leipzig to the West, went for a walk and got to know Philipp. He is now a gardener in the Annalinde nursery. He was digging sticks into sacks on a brownfield site. And I asked him what he was doing and he explained to me that these were raspberries and that he wanted to cultivate this area with others. We started talking and he invited me to come to the next party.
At that time the garden wasn’t called Annalinde yet and the initiators organized evening parties with DJs under the label Adams Garten. Pictures were also exhibited as an artistic component, e.g. cress pictures. Or it was shown what Urban Gardening looks like in other cities. I found that exciting. The 2012 season should really start and I wanted to join in. The first group was very small and I was there. Since then I feel a part of it.
»For us, the garden is a playground, a meeting point where we can try ourselves out.«
Do you know what the surface was used for before?
I know that the area lay fallow for many years. The owner is the city. At that time nobody wanted to have the area. From here there is also an entrance to the former vault of the rock cellar. There was also once an Adams garden party.
We’re a little afraid at the moment to leave our premises. If the former Victoriara would be sold, then we would have to give up a part of the area, because there is an entrance from the garden to the rock cellar vault. This also includes the staircase, which we are not using at the moment.
When does your lease expire?
In spring 2017, when a new decision will be made on how the land will be used. We would like to stay there. Friendships have also developed within the garden. We experience things together, spend time together, the garden is also a playground for us, a meeting point where we can try ourselves out. We can do this together. This is an important point.
Do the people who work for Annalinde live nearby?
There are a few from other neighborhoods. Most of them live in Lindenau or Plagwitz. I think it plays a big role how long the journey is.
Read the whole article in German at Wunderwesten