Among them are the two young gardeners enjoying their barbeque, Tilman Vogler, 30, a photographer from western Germany and Paul Muscat, 32, a programmer from Adelaide, Australia. Since 2015, they have been working with four other friends to create their own oasis.
Their small patch of land now offers up plentiful harvests of fruit and vegetables, a turquoise summer house and the prerequisite for any budding gardener in Germany – a trusty gnome.
“After work, I can come here for a couple of hours. I take my shoes off and I’m immediately in a different state of mind,” Vogler says.
But it’s not just about leisure; both men place a high value on the fruit and vegetables that they produce.
“It’s a luxury really, that we don’t have to depend on what we grow,” says Vogler. “The supermarket’s still down the road. But it definitely makes you more aware of where your food comes from and you know it’s organic.”
“The amount of work that goes into taking care of the garden also makes you appreciate what you’re eating - and makes you realise what’s in season,” says Muscat. “Nowadays we’ve got used to going to the store and seeing mangoes in the dead of winter. Where are we getting mangoes from in Germany when it’s below freezing outside?”
The increase in interest about where and how produce is grown is now reflected in the supermarket. The 2015 Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility found that consumers polled across 60 countries were willing to pay extra for one thing: sustainability.
This was found to be particularly true for millennials; while 66% of global consumers were willing to pay more for sustainable goods, that figure rose to 73% among millennials.
In Germany, home to Europe’s biggest market for organic produce, a 2019 study by Forsa also found that 28% of 18-29-year-olds would be willing to spend up to 50% more on ecological produce.
Chairman of the German Federation of Consumer Organisations Klaus Müller attributes the increase to the growing awareness of climate change, as well the influence of movements such as “Friday’s future”, which was started by the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
“But it’s not just about organic products anymore. It’s also about how much packaging is used. People are asking: ‘Is the produce farmed sustainably? What impact does this have on my carbon footprint? How many air miles is this product clocking up?’”
But the only air miles in sight at Vogler and Muscat’s allotment barbeque are overhead – from the odd plane coming into land at nearby Tegel airport.
Friends of Muscat and Vogler have also benefited from their laborious new hobby.
“They’ve been really positive about it,” says Vogler. “My housemates give me their food waste for the compost heap and in return, they often end up with a bag of fresh vegetables – we have so much. Everyone’s a winner.”