In this article, I will summarise what I do as an ESC volunteer in Germany's countryside.
I came to Germany to volunteer at the ZERAP Germany e.V. in January 2021. We started as a team of three international volunteers (Greece, Italy and Hungary) to work at the organic farm in Steinhöfel (A tiny village in Brandenburg).
ZERAP Germany e.V. is a non-profit association with a focus on environmental education in the field of "Zero Emissions Research and Projects" (ZERAP). Since 2007 they have been carrying out projects and encouraging their members to also actively engage in education, sustainability (also in rural areas) and environmental protection. Zero Emissions is the basic philosophy necessary to make children, students, teachers and citizens aware of sustainability issues.
I take an active part in the organisation's “Education on sustainable agriculture” project. This includes farm work, research, development of educational formats & content and implementation both in practice as well as using technology, e.g. preparing educational / information material, an audio guide and/or virtual tour, etc. In collaboration with StadtFarm in Landschaftspark Herzberge, ZERAP Germany offers workshops and educational lessons on sustainable food, ecosystems and climate change. Spreading the word and reaching many more (young) people to increase awareness of the impact our food has on the planet is the most important aim of this subproject.
I was only working in Steinhöfel until the middle of July because of the COVID-19 regulations and started working in StadtFarm in Berlin every Wednesday from July. Tasks for my volunteering project include:
- Learn about the state of the planet, sustainable agriculture (specifically as practised at StadtFarm) and our personal food footprint
- Research contact-less education formats for different age groups
- Concept and implementation of audio-guide
- Design and implement a virtual tour of StadtFarm for internet users
Starting in January, we constructed an upcycling greenhouse from old windows in Steinhöfel; in spring, we planted dozens of trees and shrubs for our emerging edible forest garden and a keyhole garden with hugelkultur. We also take care of rare/old breeds of chickens and quails at our farming system, so both animal care as well as researching/proving the benefits of dual-purpose breeds are part of the tasks. In parallel, we planted so many kinds of vegetables and fruits into the permaculture area, and we also documented as much of our progress.
I really love what I am doing in my project even though ZERAP Germany has some serious management problems about working with volunteers. I will write further about these problems in my future reports.