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City garden ANNALINDE Leipzig

Philipp Scharf, project manager of the ANNALINDE market garden Leipzig - urban agriculture Leipzig

A slice of countryside in the city: ANNALINDE Leipzig

The morning traffic roars past the colourful fence of Lützner Strasse 108 in the Lindenau district of Leipzig. A few metres behind the fence, Philipp Scharf is kneeling by the edge of a bed of radicchio in the ANNALINDE market garden and showing Flo, a volunteer from France, where the soaker hose needs to be repaired.

Everything seems far away from the heavy traffic and noise of the city. Bees frolic around the strip of flowers. There are long rows of cucumbers, melons, beans and tomatoes in the beds and greenhouses. A sustainable, natural oasis in the heart of the city. The market garden belongs to ANNALINDE gGmbH, a multifunctional urban agriculture project.

The ANNALINDE market garden in Leipzig Lindenau is part of the urban multifunctional agricultural project of ANNALINDE gGmbH.

Urban agriculture has a long history in Leipzig

There have been self-sufficiency gardens in Leipzig for 150 years. Known for its trade fairs, the city is also where the allotment garden movement first began in Germany. Philipp Scharf is the project manager at ANNALINDE. A horticultural engineer, he says: “We are located on the site of the long-established Toepel market garden. We rented the site in 2012 and worked closely with the Toepels at the beginning as we started to gut and redesign it.”

Driven by an urge for more green space in the city, for healthy food and collective cooperation, the community garden was created in 2011 as the nucleus of today’s ANNALINDE project. It was the brainchild of Dominik Renner, CEO of ANNALINDE gGmbH, and Jakob Ottilinger.

Initially, the aim was to pursue mobile urban horticulture on abandoned sites in the inner city and to cultivate fruit, vegetables and herbs with like-minded people in the urban environment, but it has become much more.

According to Philipp Scharf, “There are now four pillars: the community garden, the market garden featuring the sale of young plants, the orchard/fruit garden, and the ANNALINDE Academy. The latter delivers various environmental education projects.”

Organic fruit and vegetables

The market garden produces weekly vegetable boxes for 100 subscribers. Almost ten hospitality businesses now also get their fresh produce from ANNALINDE. “We grow our vegetables based on organic principles. That means natural crop rotation, useful plants and creatures rather than pest control, and organic fertilisers,” says Scharf. As a gardener, the best feedback for him is when a restaurateur compliments him on how great his tomatoes taste!

A place for social interaction

Like all the ANNALINDE sub-projects, the market garden is also a place for social interaction, integration and environmental education. As well as two employees, several young people who are doing national community service and some trainees, there are also volunteers – people with a love of gardening who are looking for a meaningful way to occupy their spare time. Like Flo from France, who is working in the market garden for a month. The payment? “The sharing of knowledge, a sense of community and fresh vegetables,” says Philipp with a grin. “Quite simply, food and gardening connect us all.”

When asked about his goals, Scharf remains modest: “To keep modernising and automating the garden, to maintain the existing employee numbers and add new positions, and to steadily improve the working conditions so that in ten years we can celebrate our 20th anniversary. And also to make a small contribution to maintaining a ‘green-fingered trade’ and training the next generation.” With that he climbs onto the project’s cargo bike to deliver four boxes of freshly harvested vegetables and herbs to the Kuultivo restaurant, skilfully weaving his way through the heavy Leipzig traffic.

Learn more about  ANNALINDE.

Philipp Scharf (left), head of the ANNALINDE market garden, delivers fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers to Michael Bauß of Leipzig's Kuultivo restaurant.

pictures: Anja Hesse-Grunert