ISSUE 18  |  Berlin Bound

A Moveable Feast: Berlin’s Portable Garden

May 07, 2015 1:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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Air raids destroyed the old Moritzplatz shopping district during World War II. Later the Berlin Wall hulked over the neighborhood. For decades, trash and rubble and graffiti looked right at home until, one day, a garden came along.

In the summer of 2009, a non-profit company called Nomadisch Grun–which translates to Nomadic Green–got a lease and started clearing garbage. Now an oasis, the Prinzessinnengarten isa popular destination in downtown Berlin, with its own coffee shop, toilets, and bar (all housed in recycled shipping containers), and a fanciful children’s playhouse built from metal and wood scraps. Fruits, vegetables, and flowers grow in portable containers; it all moves to an indoor market hall in the winter. Here’s what an entirely portable organic garden looks like:

Photographs via Prinzessinnengarten, except where noted.


Above: On summer nights, community dinners; menus are decided by what’s in season.


Above: Filmmaker Robert Shaw got the idea for the garden in Cuba, where urban farmers create communities to grow food together. In Berlin, Shaw and co-founder Marco Clausen mobilized a cleanup effort at a bleak site. Image via Nuok.


Above: Each April, the 20,000-square-foot garden and its cafe officially open for the season.


Above: Vegetables grow in plastic crates, milk containers, rice bags, and recycled plastic bags. Image via Katers Hobby.


Above: The produce is grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides.


Above: Lettuces planted in compost, in shipping crates.


Above: in the garden: a wide variety of lettuces, 15 kinds of potatoes, 20 different varieties of tomatoes, and 3-inch-long beans from Africa. Image via Invisible Twinning.


Above: No need to be a member; the Prinzessinnengarten is open to the public. Many families spend the day together in the garden.


Above: One of the seven varieties of carrots grown in the garden.


Above: The cafe is housed in an abandoned shipping container. image via Stadsjord.


Above: On the lunch menu: hyper-local fruits and vegetables. Image by Katherine Tenneson, via Flickr.


Above: Strings of colored lights in the garden’s trees. Image by Katherine Tenneson, via Flickr.


Above: When the weather turns cold, the whole garden moves down the block for the winter.


Above: In the Markthalle, home during the winter, Prinzessinnengarten crops are for sale.

For more garden inspiration from Berlin, see: