Co-creation with nature in Dortmund

Co-creation with nature in Dortmund

11 August 2021

ProGIreg Front-runner city Dortmund has been active in engaging stakeholders despite the COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout 2021 the Living Lab has consulted different groups on their wishes for the Living Lab, hosted informal meetings with local politicians, engaged potential multipliers in workshops and planned meetings with the municipal department. Further the Living Lab has organised social media campaigns to engage citizens and courses on urban farming.

Citizen activation in the proGIreg Dortmund Living Lab reached a major milestone, when seven citizens founded the Naturfelder Dortmund association on  Saturday the 10th of July 2021. The founding event took place in the St. Urbanus Forest Garden, which is co-Designed by the Living Lab partners Die Urbanisten. e.V. with local citizens.  The Naturfelder association concept goes back to a private  activity of the aquaponik manufaktur GmbH proGireg partner, where Ingo Bläser founded the first Naturfelder association in his home town Issum.

Photo: Naturfelder members

The goal of the Naturfelder associations is to establish pollinator habitats within and around the city, elevating biodiversity, and generating lush  and beautiful green spaces in the process. The locals have been very welcoming towards the introduction of more flowering meadows. There is plenty of potential in the city to convert existing green spaces into pollinator habitats. Land owners, are often unaware of the ramifications of maintaining lawns by cutting grass, and the alternate option of introducing flowering meadows as a low-cost, low-effort and environmentally friendly solution. Many associations are engaging in designing solutions to be implemented in the city, however there is a need to actively search potential sites for conversion.

Naturfelder aims to operate in a connecting role, identifying ‘missing pieces’, and helping with implementation. This 'hands-on' approach has a low threshold for participation. Willing participants do not need not have space or real estate or become pollinator experts. The association connects members based on skills and interests, whether it is searching and planting seeds to marketing and fundraising. The first activity took place on a plot managed by the Emschergenossenschaft already in March 2021 during the planning stages of the association, with volunteers transforming old soil to foster a pollinator friendly habitat. Watch the video below to take a peek of the activities (in German).

The association has had a flying start! In July the Naturfelder crew liaised with the the city of Dormund with converting public meadows in the proGIreg Living Lab Huckarde neighbourhood. Frequent and heavy rain during the past months had caused a backlog for the conventional mowing of public park spaces, which gave an optimal chance to change strategy! To ensure the conversion Naturfelder members vowed to organize and take care of maintenance of the meadows. Naturfelder members engaged the allotment garden association in the vicinity of the fields to help out with irrigation, proving them with the equipment needed. With the weather taking a turn for the better the meadow has started sprouting well and has a dense green floor. All in all six areas adjacent to public parks have been planted with pollinator friendly seeds, with more to come.

Photo: Herb garden

The next steps for the Living Lab is to add a much desired Exercise Park in the Living Lab, which has been planned in consultation with local stakeholders. The aquaponics planned on site, will entail assessment of energetic optimisation and transfer of contaminants to food, to help enhance the design of more efficient aquaponics systems in the future. The application of the building permit has been handed in with construction of the unit expected to start in autumn 2021. A new path to the old Deusenberg landfill area has been in the works and will be implemented in due course to ease access to the popular recreation area.

Learn more about proGIreg’s co-creation methods here.








This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation action programme under grant agreement no. 776528. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the proGIreg project and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.