The Free Garden Academy

A Report from the international radio station: „Deutsche Welle – Get to know Germany“ | 10.08.2010

Kant and pumpkins: „The Free Garden Academy“

Many Germans spend their holidays in „Balconia“, as the balcony is sometimes called. But for some a community garden or an allotment is the ideal place.

Planting herbs and vegetables and mowing the grass, but also barbecuing with the garden neighbors – all of this is part of the program. Although, sometimes, there are controversies that are fought over the fence. Opinions on aesthetics can be very different.

A new way of gardens

Someone who still believes in the cliché of a German garden with dwarfs, plastic chairs, and upright hedges has to change his mind when visiting Wilm Weppelmann. Contrary to the stereotype, the artist and author organizes cultural events in this exceptional place.

Langemark Street N ° 73 in Münster/ North RhineWestphalia . A placid summer night in the well-kept garden colony. At first glance there is no difference to other garden colonies in other German locations, except for the small signs pointing the way to the „Free Garden Academy“.

Tonight there is intense activity. Gardener Wilm Weppelmann is an artist and author at the same time. He is preparing the technique for the film presentation. Mr. Weppelmann has many tasks: he is the organizer, the guest and the technician. He bought the garden in 2005 and had the idea of ​​organizing evenings there, instead of looking for a more spectacular place. „I had to plan something here.“

The place where the shows of the „Free Garden Academy“ are held is not a classical garden: there are flowers and ornamental plants, some trees, a small pond and vegetable terraces; but also a lawn with chairs and a video projector. Since 2006, it has been showing films, but it also organizes, for example, readings, cabaret nights, exhibitions and concerts.

Weppelmann knows it’s a bit strange when a baritone and pianist – including his concert piano – play Schubert’s Winter Journey in a garden colony. But the special effect is not enough for the organizer. The artist is very active and is preparing new projects for next year, such as an evening with the performance artist Timm Ulrichs. Weppelmann is sure that the place of his events – the garden – is also suitable for political, social, scientific and philosophical subjects. Unfortunately, not all people know the possibilities.

“I discovered that the garden theme gives an unknown freedom of movement. It is accessible to all people. I needed clients and artists. It is not easy with such a small concept. But I always find people interested in gardens. “

An (almost) perfect night

The movie starts at the same time as the rain. But the technique resists and there are many spectators. The movie is called „The Garden“ and it is about a community garden in Los Angeles and how users protest against the plans of the city council.

He says that in Münster there is always either rain or chimes. But visitors are not put off by bad weather. “The event in the garden happens all the time.” Says Weppelmann.

Most of the visitors come regularly and are enthusiastic: „I am in love with the atmosphere. This year I went to 12 of 13 shows „, says a man. And a lady: „I come regularly. At the center of nature. This type of show is rare and very beautiful. I can meet interesting people and learn new things in an extraordinary environment. “

After the movie people get together and listen to a talk about community gardens and the audience participates. Weppelmann appears tired, but no: he is planning his academy program; has ideas until 2013. Although there is little money available for the realization of the events.

When it’s all over, Weppelmann has time for a conclusion: “It was an exciting night that people will never forget. Not everything was perfect, but the night was perfect, in its imperfection. „

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