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Tiny Forest Darmstadt - In the centre of the city

Germany's most urban Tiny Forest to date was planted on 16 November 2021. Together with 60 pupils from the neighbouring Montesorri School, 630 young trees and shrubs were given a new home on an area of 200 square metres in the middle of Darmstadt.

When city councillor Stefanie Scholz first approached us in November 2020, we had no idea what kind of project had caught our eye. Among the many potential sites, the city ultimately opted for the very central, derelict area on Berliner Allee, near the main railway station. On the one hand, we were immediately enthusiastic about the project, as it would certainly attract a lot of attention. On the other hand, it quickly became apparent that this attention would also be accompanied by a high demand for public relations and educational work.

In addition, investigations of the area revealed that the soil was full of building rubble and debris from wartime, which took the issue of soil cultivation to a new level for us. Through countless planning discussions with the city and the Parks Department, we gradually developed ideas on how to deal with the conditions on site. And almost a year after the first, cautious approaches, the time had finally come: a company was found for the ground work, all the necessary substrates were ordered and a planting date was set.

Soil preparation

In order to create fertile soil for the young plants, it first had to be cleared of many tonnes of rubble and other interesting relics from the past. To do this, the excavated material was carefully sieved and everything that did not belong in the soil was disposed of. A layer of charcoal was then built in at a depth of around one metre, which will later serve the forest as a kind of battery that holds water and nutrients. The topsoil was also mixed with 40 cubic metres of Terra Preta, which now ensures greater nutrient availability and microbial activity, among other things. After two weeks on site, the work was completed and everyone could start to look forward to the best part of the project!

The planting

Children from the neighbouring Montessori School helped us with the planting. Divided into two colourful groups, a total of 60 children were involved in planting all the trees on this one day. Despite the cold and grey autumn weather, everyone was eager to get down to work and we had a wonderfully beautiful and enriching day. It was fascinating to see how much responsibility the children took on after just a short time. Even when politicians and the press came at lunchtime to praise themselves and the project, the children were not distracted and continued to work happily.

At the end of the day, we were exhausted and proud to look back on what we had created together over the past eight hours. From now on, the children will pass by their little forest every day on their way to school to observe how the plants are developing and to water them on hot summer days.

In essence, the Tiny Forests are about much more than just the ecological added value of these small forests. It's about getting people excited about nature again and giving them a sense of community and hope. It is incredibly beautiful to feel how happy and committed the children are when they are planting. In the digital age, it is more important than ever not to lose touch with the earth and to help shape our future with optimism and joy. Because we are the ones we have always been waiting for. Let's give nature more space in our lives again and realise that we are a part of it!

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