The German city of Aldernach is called the “eatable city”. Here the signs in the public green areas read “picking allowed” rather than the more common “no trespassing”.
The city has allowed townspeople to plant fruit, vegetables and herbs in public spaces and for anyone to pick them. Following the initiative, public spaces have become gardens and green areas for the public.
The project began in 2010 and has been continuously developing since then. Essentially, civic planning has met sustainability and biodiversity. The project embraces several goals: sustainable management of public green spaces, sustainable urban agriculture, promoting healthier eating and living, as well making access available to everyone.
The goal is to make urban green spaces more attractive and, at the same time, to support ecological, aesthetic and economic functions. The project promotes social engagement as fills the cities public spaces with… life (vegetable and human)!
Each year a particular plant is given a special focus, and recent years have featured: tomatoes (2010), beans (2011), onions (2012), and cabbage (2013).
There is also a small vineyard where grapes may be directly consumed. Also, in 2012 an ‘edible wall’ was constructed featuring fruit trees and edible plants, and re-establishing some regional fruit trees which have become rare.
Other benefits of the project are as diverse as they are interesting. For example: it promotes social interaction and has led to positive changes in local habits, citizens take a role in the planning and development of their city, the city has become more green and biodiverse, there is an economic aspect in which much of the effort is provided by mutual consent of the participants, and finally, there is an ongoing vocational and educational dimension.