Farm visit: Permakulturgärtnerei Ilse Hans
We organise farm visits in the Berlin area which are specifically intended for gastronomes and farmers. Our aim is to share knowledge about agricultural cultivation methods, spark a conversation around product quality, and show the connection of individual ingredients to our whole food system. Through these farm visits, we bring producers and cooks closer together and nurture their mutual appreciation.
In the year 2007 Johanna Häger took over the degraded, lean place of her permaculture nursery Ilse Hans in Gerswalde. She transformed it to a permaculture market garden in the midst of forest-garden structures. The soil structure is of essential importance for them, so in the beginning mainly trees, shrubs and perennial plants were planted. Later the vegetable growing was added, which finds its place between and among the trees and shrubs.
“Permanent Agriculture” is based on natural systems. For Johanna, there are two key aspects in particular: agroforestry systems and bio-intensive cultivation. In agroforestry cultivation, woody plants regulate the water balance by transporting and retaining groundwater in the upper layers. By providing shade, they counteract evaporation. They also serve as carbon stores and a permanent source of nutrition. In addition, Johanna attaches great importance to bio-intensive cultivation on small areas in order to create a great diversity and activate soil life. Permanent beds of equal size are planted close together. They are tilled without the use of heavy machinery, but by hand or with the help of animals. The beds are never dug up, but organic material is added. Because plants find it difficult to thrive on the sandy soil, they plant the vegetables in the compost.
The vegetables grow in mixed cultures. In addition, mulch plants such as comfrey and stinging nettle are sown. These serve as excellent green manure; comfrey brings additional potassium into the soil. Herbs, flower strips and woody plants grow between the rows to regulate weeds and confuse pests.
Johanna gives workshops on the topic of constructive agriculture as part of the Permakultur Akademie and founded the association zukunftsFähig e.V., to pass on her knowledge. Her products are marketed through a SoLaWi and to some restaurants in Berlin, like the Nobelhart & Schmutzig.