Reaping What You Sow in Germany

June 20, 2020 Published by Beth Thomas

Historically rooted urban gardening in the World Heritage City of Bamberg (Germany)

Award-winning documentary by Christian Beyer accompanies the establishment of Bamberg’s first pick-your-own garden

Already in 2012, the UN Study “Food and Agriculture: The future of sustainability” stated that “farming has enormous impacts on the world’s most critical resources” and recommended investments in small-scale farming without excessive agrochemical use.

By localizing produce, urban farms cut down on the significant amount of fossil fuel consumption necessary to transport, package, and sell food. Moreover, agriculture in cities provides something obvious: more green space. This contributes to the health of urban ecosystems in a variety of ways. Greenery adds aesthetic appeal, absorbs precipitation, provides restful spaces for the community, and counters the heat island effect by extracting the carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis.

Since the Middle Ages, urban gardening has been practiced in Bamberg. These medieval structures of gardening from farmsteads to adjacent acreage have been exceptionally preserved to this day. The Market Gardeners’ District with its wide and open spaces, within the World Heritage site and its buffer zone does not only characterize Bamberg’s townscape, but also forms an important contrast to the densely constructed town of Bamberg. The Market Gardeners’ District together with the City on the Hills and the Island District is an integral part of the World Heritage site.

In 2016, Bamberg’s gardening tradition was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the very same year, the local transition group launched its first pick-your-own garden on the outskirts of the city in collaboration with some experienced gardeners. For seven months, filmmaker Christian Beyer accompanied this development and captured how the group grew their own vegetables in organic quality and how this changed their perception of food production.

The film entitled “Reaping What You Sow” is available with English subtitles at It was awarded at the Bamberg Short Film Festival in 2018.

Currently, the local transition group creates another pick-your-own garden within the historic Market Gardeners’ District. With urban farming flourishing during the Corona pandemic, an increasing number of people is reflecting about land use and food security. Bamberg’s historically rooted urban gardening is an inspiring example of how local food production can be organized within a historic city and how it can serve as a shock absorber during disruptions such as the current crisis.

World Heritage Office

City of Bamberg

Untere Mühlbrücke 5

96047 Bamberg / Germany

Tel:         +49 (0) 951 / 87-1811