From Gravel to Life – Our Planting Project

On my walks through the city I have noticed from time to time that some trees look different. There are no dog droppings, no broken glass and no rubbish or cigarette butts on the surrounding beds. Instead they are planted with flowers. That is when I usually stop and take a closer look. And while I am thinking of the people who planted these flowers I get this nice warm feeling – a sense of home. I do not know these people. But I know for sure that they care. They care enough to step outside their own closed homes and create a space that is not restricted like a private garden, but open to everyone who passes by. A seed of community…

Never have I thought about the idea that I and some others would do something similar for our school. It all started at the end of a room parent meeting in April 2019. A great idea was briefly mentioned, but nobody wanted to organize it. This was the chance to plant the tree beds in front of the school with some bee friendly plants. A project that was planned in collaboration with the environmental organization “Oekoloewe” and the Sparkasse.

Based on the fact that over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction this project made totally sense to me. But there were no volunteers. I wondered. “Could I be one of them? Absolutely not! There is too much work involved in such a project”. The planting is just the first step. Caring for the flowers until they are settled in with the soil is a much bigger commitment. I asked myself: “Why not? It cannot be so hard. But think of the commitment? Do you really want this?! You will have to get out of your comfort zone to do this.” There were two voices arguing on my mind; one desperately trying to silence the other and I was caught up in the middle. Eventually I made up my mind and before I was tempted to change it again, I went ahead with shaking hands and offered my help since this was something I truly believed in.

In my opinion the plants express more than a simple obligation to the environment. They also symbolize what we want to teach our children. They represent the school to people outside of the school community – a little bit like a business card. And when I walk by as an outsider who is unaware of the school’s philosophy I see a place where people care for their surroundings. And when people care for their surroundings they also care for each other. When people care for each other they develop trust. And trust unlocks collaboration, sharing, support and so much more. Therefore these plants are the messengers of the community spirit.

As I have mentioned before there was a lot of work involved in this project. Luckily I did not have to do it alone. Instead I found people who were willing to help me:

Parents who planted the flowers
James and the Hort team who supported the project right from the beginning
Students who helped to water the plants during the months from August to October 2019
Liane and Helena from the marketing department who always had an open ear
Gitte who always helped out with advice
And of course Kathleen and Daphne, mothers who collected the children from Hort so they could water the plants together.

Thank you all! Without you guys the plants would not have survived. Together we used up approximately 2940 l of water and walked ~39.6 kilometers. Well done everybody!

During the progress of the project it turned out the biggest challenge was to make sure that the plants are protected from little and big feet. That was when we decided to surround the tree beds with logs and branches. Unfortunately we lost some plants because people stepped on them. However, we did not give up and planted some more flowers that will provide food for the bees in early spring next year.

While winter took over and nature had a rest I often thought. “Was it worth it?” But now that spring is here the answer is obviously Yes! We created something that will flourish in the years to come and give joy to the people who pass by. For the future I hope that the words of one mother will not come true. After a friendly reminder to be careful around the plants, she responded: “Do you really believe anything will grow here next year?”
“Yes, if people care. I hope you care.”

Claudia Hübner

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