Diplom-Geograph Alexander Follmann, was born in 1983 in Lemgo, studied Geography, Urban Development and Transport Studies in Cologne, Bonn and Vancouver. His master thesis on the revitalization of Cologne’s Rheinauhafen was awarded with the Kölnpreis 2009. As a research assistant at the Geography Institute at the University of Cologne he conducts researches and teaches in the fields Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Environmental Governance, Urban Political Ecology and Urban Informality with the focus on Germany and India. Within the framework of his dissertation, he works on urban development and environmental protection in the flood plain of Yamuna in the Indian capital, Delhi. Since February 2012, he is committed to the Cologne community garden NeuLand. In cooperation with Dr. Valerie Viehoff he published the contribution “A green garden on red clay: creating a new urban common as a form of political gardening in Cologne, Germany” in 2014 in Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.
The community garden Kölner NeuLand as an urban common land and its (possible) contribution for the urban development
Since March 2012, a mobile community garden arose in the south part of Cologne on a wasteland area. The site is part of a 100 hectare urban development area located in the south part of the intercity railway loop. As an urban common land, the project NeuLand represents a space for socio-ecological experiment, which is characterized by easily accessible and mainly informal involvement of citizens. However, the history of the garden shows that gardening itself was not the only motive for the founding of the project, but that since the beginning the garden was created as an informal instrument to contribute to the district and urban development from below. Therefore, the appropriation of space through the community garden NeuLand represents a new form of civil community involvement which opposes the neoliberal exploitation logic of the entrepreneurial investor-oriented city. At the same time this community involvement support a green, sustainable and local population oriented urban renewal.
The contribution explains the motives and objectives of the initiative NeuLand from the perspective of an active gardener and urban geographer. NeuLand considers itself as a new form of edible, urban green and whilst looking at the completion of the inner part of Grüngürtel, aims to integrate the communal gardens in the newly emerging city parks. In theory, the contribution focuses on the question to what extent can common based gardens create new, creative green spaces beyond the classical public and private form of urban green. Design and aesthetics play big roles in the process of acceptance, consolidation and formalization of this space pioneer because not everyone approves the do-it-yourself look of Urban Gardening, some of them might ask : “Dat soll ne Jade sin? Dat küzz mehr aber sehr suspect vür.”