Urban farming and the gardening movement: Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin

December 4, 2011

A dear old friend of mine introduced me this year to “Prinzessinnengarten”, an urban garden community in the middle of Berlin.

A couple of days ago I read in the Bangkok Post, my daily newspaper, about the re-emergence of the urban gardening movement with a reference to the “Prinzessinnengarten”, and I thought, great, I have seen them in July with my own eyes.

During my student days at Bonn University, I always had a garden or was involved in some gardening venture. Usually together with some friends, we would rent a vacant plot of land in a deserted gardening colony or other public land designated for urban gardening.

We took issue with the older movement of “Schrebergaerten”, an earlier tradition of urban gardening in Germany, which we considered parochial, dull and boring. Instead we sympathised more with the tradition of the hippy and flower-power movements.

In fact our gardens were also always places for extensive garden parties with lots of alcohol and loud music.

But my gardening roots are much older than that. In fact my paternal grandfather, Hans Schuessler was the one who introduced me to gardening at the tender age of 5 or so.

Working for the railways he always maintained various gardens usually near to the rails where he grew vegetables and all kinds of fruit. He also made delicious fruit wines, and all kinds of marmalade and gelées/jellies.

“Prinzenssinnengarten” is an oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of Germany’s biggest mega-city. It offers food and drink and a wide range of entertainment as well.

The garden was set up in 2009 and it took just two years to make it into an urban paradise.

All kinds of boxes can be used to create opportunities for growing stuff

More boxes and..

..also plastic sacks to grow potatoes

…and cabbages

Crates to grow zucchini and rhubarb

Tomatoes are grown under plastic roofs

Nurseries are also included in Prinzessinnengarten

Prices are modest and the revenue generated is for a good cause

Enjoy

It is worth to visit “Prinzessinnengarten”, that’s for sure.


My favourite Primitivo di Manduria – from 60 year old wines at Bacco, Bangkok

December 3, 2011

One of my favourite wines is the ‘Primitivo di Manduria’ produced from 60 year old vines, either the 2006 or the 2007 vintages (I like both) which I usually have at Bacco ristorante and wine bar in Thonglor, which is my favourite Italian restaurant in Bangkok.

Look at the colour

Manduria is a small country town in the province of Taranto with about 30,000 inhabitants in Apulia, close to the coast of Southern Italy. Apart from its interesting history it is also a place where the best Primitivo grapes are grown and made into wine.

The DOC Primitivo di Manduria wines are unlike other Primitivo wines made with a 100% of Primitivo grapes. The wines are usually heavy, dark red and have at least 14% of alcohol. More than two thousands years ago the Primitivo grapes were brought from Greece to Southern Italy and ever since wine making was part of the local culture.

In the video clip above the vines are not supported by any trellis system. The grapes are harvested by hand without secateurs. The bunches are small. The farm vehicle delivering the grapes to the winery is tiny.

Italo Western come to mind when listening to the film music. The processing, however, is more on the modern side. And I love the end of the clip when a glass of Primitivo is presented.

The ‘2007 Primitivo di Manduria Sessantanni Old Wines’ by Feudi di San Marzano, is a great wine. I love the fruitiness, the elegance with the dense and velvety tannins, the finely balanced acids. Hmm, just like being in paradise.

Feudi di San Marzano is not a small producer though, it has 500 ha under vines and produces a wide range of wines, many from indigenous varieties.

So if you are in Bangkok and you want truly Italian experience, go to Bacco and order a bottle of Primitivo di Manduria. You will not be disappointed.