Since 2016, the UWC Monastery Garden is an official school garden recognized by the ministries of agriculture and education and cultural affairs of Baden-Württemberg. Together with 153 further schools, UWC participated in the competition „Lernen für die Zukunft – Gärtnern macht Schule“ (Learning for the future — gardening gaining importance) and was ranked among the top school gardens, making ours a “best practice” concept. A success for the team around Gardener Eva and Sustainability Coordinator Tobi, for whom the work with students in the garden plays an important role in the school’s overall sustainability education: “The garden is a place where we first and foremost tackle shared tasks to keep it running; but for us, it is also important to promote a love for nature and gardening, to encourage student initiative and collaboration”, says Eva-Maria Schüle, who has managed the garden long before UWC came to Freiburg.
An introduction to organic gardening is provided to students though our CAS program. We currently run three service groups responsible for the garden on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, each with eight to ten students in it. They spend 2,5 hours per week in the garden and are often joined by students who have chosen their College Service to be dedicated to the garden. Examples are the „Garden Maintenance Team“, the „Polytunnel Growers“, the „Polytunnel Technicians“ or the „Compost & Mushrooms Helpers“ and “Wood Workers”.
“I really like the Klostergarten Service since it is nice to be outside, working physically on a Friday afternoon in combination with nice conversation with my peers and the locals from Freiburg. The activities we do are fun and diverse since the conditions are always different depending on the season and also unpredictable because of weather conditions. Nonetheless, the work needs to be done no matter how shitty the weather is. Some things we did were: digging over, sowing ray and planting e.g. winter onion, taking care of the compost, weeding, preparing the garden for winter: covering the patches in hay, harvesting and sorting seeds, taking the dahlia roots out…” (RBC Schülerin, 2014-2016)
The garden as a space for exchange
Since the United World College moved into the Kartaus, the garden has been maintained manually without the use of machines. For students, the digging offers a compensation to the academic curriculum, which is often welcome. During Orientation Week, the garden becomes a space of first encounters and exchange. Learning the Latin word for sunflower or sharing the word in one’s own language with new peers can be an icebreaker — and creates a conneciton with nature from the beginning. And when 200 hands are on deck, a lot can happen within a day or a week. Some examples here:
- Construction of a polytunnel
- Raking the freshly mowd grass
- Clearing the pasture area from branches
- Clearing the canal bed from mud and moving this to our polytunnel
- Digging the harvested rye field
- Making apple juice
Do you want to learn more about the garden? Here is a link to the original application of UWC as school garden.