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About the Global Bio Gardens

It has existed right next to the University of Erfurt campus since mid-April 2020 an international agricultural project that currently involves around 54 people. Most of them are international students from more than 20 countries. The project owes its existence to the Corona Virus lockdown phenomenon.


The first weeks of the lockdown slowed life on the campus of the University of Erfurt. It was created among the international students of the University of Erfurt and Willy Brandt School, who were cut off from their families, came up with the idea of a farm where people can do a productive job. Lots of participants currently see Global Bio Gardens (GBG) as recreational pursuits, however, are concerned with food security issues and interested in a more sustainable way of farming and some of them now want sustainable management practices in their home countries where their families also run farms.


The idea of producing own food motivates GBG participants. The Prime Founders include Kankana Dutta, Anastasia Steinbrunner, Georgy Varghese (Master's students at the Willy Brandt School), Srinivas Goud Kalal and Dr. Fred Meier-Menzel (Design Sciences, Bauhaus University). The GBG initiative was lucky enough to find Annegret Rose (Saatgut Rose) as an expert on Demeter agriculture. She had offered us a piece of land as well as Demeter seeds and provided us with pre-grown saplings. Later she did extend her support by bringing two agricultural experts from Erfurt University of Applied Sciences to GBG to accompany the students in agriculture.


For now the GBG initiative includes students from the University of Erfurt, the Bauhaus Weimar University, Schmalkalden University, three refugee families: one from Afghanistan and two Turkish Families, the kindergarten at Max-Kade-House and hopefully soon people from the CJD Erfurt who will join this multicultural, social inclusion project.

More Cooperation Partners are the Stadtwerke Erfurt with marketing director Sabine Hölterhoff, Katy Wenzel with her School Garden, University of Erfurt, Steffen Langbein, member of the association “Strangers become friends e.V.“, Forester Mrs Krispin. A TV show with the MDR on Global Bio Gardens is in the preparation.


Our key aspects

Sustainable Living

The participants of GBG project produce vegetables and herbs for their day today use: potatoes, zucchini coriander and pumpkins are among the most sought after vegetables and herbs. The farm produce is not enough for running their kitchens entirely but it has managed to add the aspect of sustainable living to participants life style and thereby significantly reducing the carbon foot print/ ecological footprint.

Climate Change

Climate change and agricultural practices are closely tied. The GBG project is a bio project where in no chemical fertilizers used in the process of producing food. The quality of the soil is among the best in the country and certified. This project is an effort from the participants' side to contribute to climate change perhaps at a small level at the moment.

Food Security

Food security is defined by World Food Summit as "exists when all people,   at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life". GBG is an initiative towards this goal. The Corona  pandemic triggered the need for such an initiative all the more. The image of people queue in front of super markets around the world and empty shelves made the prime founders of this initiative vision about a food  secured  society.

Social Integration

Integration is a key aspect of the project. The 52 members of the farm group belong to more than 20 nationalities out of which three are refugee families. The age of the participants ranges from a four-year-old kindergarten student to a 65 plus grandpa from Afghanistan. One of the families is newly arrived from Turkey and for them the farm is like a support system. The time spent at the farm helps them integrate into the society without losing their identity. Same is the case with the Afghan refugee family. Small children from the Afghan family meet Kanishka, who is from Afghanistan as well. He had completed his PhD at University of Erfurt recently and with his academic achievements he remains an inspirational role model.


Integration at the GBG is never a forced assimilation; one would find people  of various ethnic groups on the ground irrespective of language, caste and creed. Participants are allowed to plant vegetables, herbs and flowers of their choice. At first they are offered Demeter seeds from Annegret Rose's farm. Later, we saw interest in participants to introduce plants from their countries. This remains a challenge for the coming farming session.

In a way they are taking a piece of land in Germany and make it their own during this half a year and develop a sense of belonging to their land.

Knowledge Exchange

The participants especially the ones who had previous experience share various practices they followed before in other farm spaces. For example Mr Hussain Ali has a special way of planting potatoes. He creates a dip between two rows of potatoes to contain the water for longer time.

At times recipes are shared on the GBG Whatsapp group about making dishes from farm produce. It is fascinating to see such pictures surface on the group often.


Some of the group members are politically motivated. During the pro right wing attacks in Erfurt in August 2020 there were discussions on visiting the victims of the attack and further address the issue of racism in Thuringia. The scope of the initiative is way beyond merely producing food.

Future plans and Challenges


At the moment the success of the project can be ascribed to the benevolent help of Annegret Rose. The land, seeds and plant saplings were given free of cost from her side. In future the sustainability of the project is a concern. It needs active support from the University, State and other significant institutions and individuals. In future the project must be in a position to   lease land and able to buy seeds/ saplings and run self-sufficient. For example, one of the families could set up a stall at Domplatz market during the weekend to sell their produce.

Global Citizenship Education Aspect


Global Bio Gardens Initiative stands for some of the core values Global Citizenship Education upholds. It strives to address challenges such as migration and climate change. At GBG one could see the merge of local and global identity for a socially just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable development of society. For instance, the engagement with the multi cultural kindergarten from University of Erfurt every Tuesday gives us an opportunity to introduce this idea of ecologically sustainable living to the children.

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