A new gardening book written in “easy German” has been released under the title “Gemüse aus der Stadt — Ein Garten-Buch in Leichter Sprache” (Vegetables from the City — A gardening book in Easy Language). The book enables German speakers of different levels to organize inclusive gardening workshops and to enjoy urban vegetable gardening all year long. It is the result of several years of weekly gatherings by the “TUML” group, a mix of people with and without disabilities and with differing levels of gardening experience. We met in one of Berlin’s best-known urban gardens, the himmelbeet in the city’s Wedding neighborhood. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of supporting this project as a workshop leader and editorial consultant.
The book’s chapters are divided into four seasons and workshop topics range from starting seedlings and preparing the planting bed to growing potatoes in a sack, building a vegetable trellis and saving seed. Also included are several crafts projects such as building an insect hotel and making colored paint from vegetables. The 14 workshops are broken into 4 to 8 easy steps, accompanied by beautiful photographs and rich illustrations. We field-tested them and our workshop participants gave feedback and editorial support along the way. And — you guessed it — the book encourages us to use chemical-free, organic gardening methods.
As I’m leafing through the colorful pages of this book in late December, I can’t help but dream of the next growing season, of the smell of moist spring air and of getting my hands dirty again in the garden. And I am reminded in the foreword that the simple act of growing food in community is nothing “simple” at all: “Durch das Gärtnern können wir gemeinsam die Welt verändern… Das ist eine große Sache” (By gardening we can change the world together… That is a big deal). This book, written in a simple language that more people can follow, helps us make our gardening community more inclusive and that is definitely a big deal!