The History of Rosa Rose Community Garden in a Nutshell

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The History of Rosa Rose Community Garden in a Nutshell
« on: January 31, 2008, 10:27:48 AM »
The Community Garden Rosa Rose in Berlin Friedrichshain started out in early 2004 on a 0,45 acre plot of abandoned land.  Residents cleaned up the three adjacent empty lots that had been used as an illegal trash dump ever since the houses were demolished in 1990.
   The garden project expanded quickly, involving more than 15 permanent active gardeners from different countries, as well as countless occasional gardeners, helpers and general onlookers eager to utilize and enjoy the space.

   Not only are vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers grown, but more importantly awareness and community spirit are cultivated in this once neglected space.  One of the main goals of the garden is to create and cultivate a free zone in this densely populated neighbourhood where people can come and relax without being pressured to consume and spend money; where people can meet and interact, learn from each other and from the plants.
   There are garden parties.  Workshops are hosted.  Free movies are shown. Many other creative projects are realized and implemented thanks to the opportunities this space offers.  The garden is always open, figuratively as well as literally - day and night, for anybody to enter and enjoy at any time.
   The loosely organized group of caretakers consists entirely of volunteers who put as much time, effort and money into the project as they can.

   A Guerrilla Garden "by default": From the very beginning the gardeners attempted to work out an agreement with the owners regarding the space. In 2005 the wish to buy the property was finalized and communicated to the then owner in order to preserve the project for the long-term.  Gardeners attended the foreclosure auctions but couldn?t put sufficient cash on the table to buy the properties right away.  The requests were repeated several times but were never answered by any of the revolving administrators of the lots.  Since the planned housing projects of the early 1990s couldn?t be realized due to the developers bankruptcy, the lots were in the hands of insolvency liquidators, who apparently didn?t feel obligated to take the gardeners seriously.  In 2006 the district government as one of the creditors asked the insolvency administration for a temporary user agreement for the garden - again to no avail as no answer was ever received.
Meanwhile in 2007, the properties were sold to a developer and respectively a stock corporation.  One of the new owners has already put in a request for a building permit for the part of the land where most of the garden beds and activities are located.

   The project has not only the moral support of the neighbourhood, but also that of the district government and even the mayor himself.  Since, however, it is private property, all that can be done is to appeal to the new owner to reconsider their decision to develop the property into housing.
   One immediate goal is to create as much publicity as possible as to the plight of the project.  The focus is to raise awareness as to the value of non-commercial open spaces.  Hopefully the developers will realize the value in what has been created and agree to allow the project to purchase the land.