Communal School Garden: Berlin Gartenarbeitsschule
Gartenarbeitsschule und Freilandlabor – Garden School and Outdoor Laboratory: The green site of learning in the centre of Berlin
In a city where land is expensive, Berlin has shown us how multipurpose, interactive spaces can be used by numerous school communities to create a living centre of learning.
The Gartenarbeitsschule und Freilandlabor in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg part of Berlin is a wonderful school garden project resulting from a school reform movement in 1922. It was established to offer children living in Berlin an opportunity to learn more about nature, help them to better understand their biological connection to nature and how nature changes through the seasons. The 2.5 ha garden is divided into 3 stages consisting of the Working Garden (est 1922), Outdoor Laboratory (est 1988) and the Animals & Playground (est 2000).
10,000 m2 of well maintained garden beds & a large variety of fruit trees comprise the working garden. Garden staff (a full-time Head Gardener, 2 part-time positions and 10 seasonal workers) grow seedlings, water the grounds, and maintain the two botanical classrooms, conference room, greenhouse, tool sheds, beautiful paths and fruit trees that surround the 18 garden plots. The Head Gardener oversees the entire site and coordinates the visits of the 10 schools / 20 classes involved in the Gartenarbeitschule.
Staff are on hand to assist teachers and students with horticultural knowledge. In Spring, each class has access to a wide range of plants (all grown on site) as well as seeds and bulbs for them to plant. The growing season begins in March and usually ends in October when harvest is completed. In Winter a special class is conducted whereby students collect natural materials and make items such as wicker baskets. Open to all year levels, classes attend the garden once a week to tend their plots and receive talks about ecology, biology and botany from the Gartenarbeitschule staff or school teachers.
10,000 m2 filled with well-thought out interactive display gardens for outdoor learning.
Starting with the relationship between the class and nature (often based on year level), the goal is to include as many senses as possible to aid learning about the natural world. Various displays assist with learning how flora and fauna interact such as ponds, herb spiral, climbing plants, butterfly garden, marsh & vineyards. An instructional nature walk with information stands along the way will lead you to all corners of the garden and leave you with a wealth of new knowledge. Year level determines the selection of subjects offered with some examples being: pond ecosystems; insects and flowers; seeds and fruits; social behavior of bees; and birds in Winter.
Animals and Playground
5,000 m2 to engage with animals and, importantly, to burn off some energy thus avoiding wanton destruction.
With so many activities requiring concentration in the garden a large play area was established to allow the kids to play soccer, basketball use the playground, enter the fort and generally relax. This space also houses chickens, rabbits and bees (separated by a fence), creating a beautiful space ideal for watching animals and playing.
Australia could benefit from projects like these …