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Good News: Germany's incredible "edible city"

BY Alice Gawthrop

15th Sep 2022 Good News

Good News: Germany's incredible "edible city"

In the mood for some good news? Green urban food initiatives are on the rise around the world! Andernach in Germany is one of the first "edible cities"

Imagine being able to pop to your local park and pick some tomatoes, potatoes or even bananas to take home for dinner. Sounds too good to be true, right? For residents of Andernach, it’s not just a utopian dream—it’s their reality.

What is an "edible city"?

In 2010, Andernach began its "edible city" project, planting 101 varieties of tomato in public green spaces around the city centre. Its 30,000 residents are free to help themselves to whatever grows, as are any other visitors. The town’s motto of sorts is, "Picking is encouraged—help yourself!"

Every year a new type of plant is highlighted. In 2011, 100 types of beans were planted, while 2012 saw the introduction of 20 onion varieties. 

It’s a community effort, as local citizens are encouraged to help plant and maintain the gardens. This offers an opportunity to socialise as well as to learn about planting, cultivating and harvesting food.

"The town’s motto is, 'Picking is encouraged—help yourself!'"

Speaking to DW, an Andernach resident said, "I often drop by to pick some herbs that I'm missing at home. Everything is easily accessible. There aren't any fences. You just take what you need. The only thing is you have to be quick once the fruits are ripe or they'll all be gone!”

Around the world

Andernach may have been the first, but it isn’t the only edible city. It’s part of the Edible Cities Network, an EU-funded project connecting green urban foot initiatives around the world. Other cities include Carthage in Tunisia, Havana in Cuba and Šempeter-Vrtojba in Slovenia.

In February 2022, the first Edible Cities Network Conference took place. Dr Ina Säumel, Principal Investigator of the Edible Cities Network, called it, “a unique opportunity to invite researchers and practitioners of edible city solutions to the same table and unite theory with practice.” 

Ultimately, the Edible Cities Network aims to create “greener, more edible and, above all, more liveable cities”. It is a response to the pressures of climate change, and a cause for hope

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