Excursion to the “Urban Gardens” as the beginning of the module “Urban Forestry in the Tropics”

Group of students and members of Höhenluft I ©G. Huidobro

The Book “Urban Tree Management: For the Sustainable Development of Green Cities” mentions about the name Höhenluft I, which is one over 370 allotment garden complexes in Dresden. This allotment gardens are not only famous for its variable benefits over time, but also contains several interesting stories of history in Dresden city. Over the period from the beginning to present, this allotment gardens witnessed the time of the German Empire until 1918, the darkest time in the story of Germany from 1933 to 1989, but they also witnessed an important day for German people, the day of the reunification on October 3, 1990.

Students observing the different gardens ©G. Huidobro

We visited Höhenluft I, “Urban garden” in Dresden the 10thOctober 2020 in a slightly rainy and windy autumn day. Dr. Eckhard Auch was really enthusiastic when showed us the new and modern German architecture along the way before arriving to the allotment gardens. There is a significant difference, Höhenluft I is a really special space, as if we were getting lost to a small idyllic village in the stories of the Brothes Grimm. Scientifically, the allotment gardens play an important role to society overtime. In the 21st century, it offers an opportunity for people to get close to nature, for children to have green and farming space to learn, and for adults maintaining contact with other gardening friends in their free time.

In the book “Urban Tree Management: For the Sustainable Development of Green Cities”, the author provides two definitions on the table. “Allotment garden complexes” and “Community gardens”. Orchard garden complexes as Höhenluft I, have 190 cultivated garden plots, the plot size is about 400m2 and gardeners need to follow several specific regulations of leasing and using the land. “Community gardens” are the gardens cultivated by a cooperative group of people.

The visit to the community garden “Apfelgarten” was also impressing because of the growth of a larger green area that is cultivated and cared by a group of volunteers. This Apfelgarten is much younger than Höhenluft I, was established in 2014. After 6 years, we can recognise their proud members talking about the garden. Maxi and Jenny, members of the community garden, explained to us that they mainly reuse old materials for the structures in the garden, like stiches or an old shower door. They also welcome some little animals on the garden.

Group at the “Apfelgarten” in front of one of the beds made out of a shower door ©E. Auch

Apfelgarten is run by a diverse group of young and elderly citizens, who mainly live near Dresden-Strehlen, with flowers, vegetable beds, and sitting area. They want to transform a meadow on a busy street into a colorful oasis for humans and animals.

My country, Vietnam, is a beautiful country but it has the stress of the urbanization. In big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, people can easily find Vietnam tropical garden products everywhere. But having a little garden inside the city is a challenge. City dwellers lack of the “green” area. The real estate investors build high-rise apartment buildings with a small “green” areas around and name it “New Urban Area”, then offer to sell at very high prices. It is a proof for the need of city residents in a green space for gardening. This excursion is the good beginning for the course “Urban Forestry in the Tropics”. Since this module raises several questions about how to solve the problem of green areas in the developing countries as Vietnam.

Jane, one of the members of “Apfelgarten” ©E. Auch

Because of the Corona pandemics, some of my classmates unfortunately could not participate in the excursion. I hope that they will have more excursions during the course, so that everyone can experience the real benefits of urban “green” to city dwellers.

By Ha Dang

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