In Berlin (and possibly other cities) the Deutsche Bahn offers parcels in their easements to folks who would like to maintain a garden. This is a highly-contested opportunity that is mostly handed down within families for decades, however, it is expensive. DB continues to own the land, but the user must purchase (and maintain) a small shelter on the property. Water is provided to the property during the summer, but all must agree to help DB turn it off for the winter. One’s garden house can have a sleeping place, bathroom and kitchen, but the owner is not allowed to rent the space nor stay in the space in any permanent style.
Ini has, within the past year, taken the leap to get a garden house. It’s a significant risk to those who take the plunge, because DB can change their track locations and easements, and other city construction can cramp a location that was once open but private. Also, security is often a risk, although the areas are always keyed.
Ini’s spot has been maintained for about 40 years prior to her “adoption” of it, and while the structure and most of the plantings and landscaping remain as-was, she has totally renovated the interior of the garden house to make it more amenable for family use. She and her daughter, Lee, have also changed the annual planting areas with raised beds for vegetable gardening. Lee has been mostly involved with the growing of veggies, a passion she’s had since she was a very young girl.
Ini and Lee, with the help of Lee’s friend, Matthias (who has discovered a new outlet from his professorial vocation in weeding and learning the difference between intended plants and unintended plants) have created a truly lovely spot, and it’s obvious from not only the small touches and artistic additions, but also how lovingly it is used and appreciated, that it is an essential aspect of urban life to them now. They go over somewhat regularly to grill and share dinners, some of which was grown on site. Matthias has been learning, “hands-on” style, how to be the grill-meister for their gathered meals.
I had not downloaded the photos of our visit to Ini’s Garden House from my camera when I uploaded the October 4 blog — indeed, Jack stayed at the apartment and slept some of his cold away. But I had forgotten that Page, Ini, and I walked over to the garden house and checked things out, Page and I seeing it for the first time.