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Helle Oase

Nature Protection Award 2012

The Eco Citizens Garden received the German Nature Protection Award in 2012. For further information, please click here.

The Helle Oase is an open citizens garden with manifold offers for young and old. The area of 4,000 sq.m in size was created with the involvement of local citizens on a former urban wasteland in the centre of Hellersdorf. This is where people may do gardening together as well as learn from one another at workshops, project days and other types of activities. They can also party together, play, improve their fitness or just relax. Raised flowerbeds invite everyone to plant and harvest vegetables, herbs or flowers. An insect hotel, a worm farm, a spiral of herbs, a wild orchard, compost, a wetland habitat, a wild flower meadow and a lot more communicate knowledge of our natural environment in a vivid and practical manner at once.

The team of Helle Oase organises joint gardening days, many fetes, workshops, school holiday activities and a lot more. For current information please turn to our blog or follow us on Facebook:

The project received the Nature Protection Award 2012:

Embedded in the communal garden, there are the following:

  • a young children’s playground with swings, seesaw, play house, wobbly animal, slide, large sand pit and a free loan of sand toys. This is where the youngest already learn that it is fun to share. A fence with stimulating paintings screens of the area and affords security for the children. Many benches invite the parents to sit and stay.

  • the Hammock Lounge is the second largest of its kind in Berlin, according to its designer, the 18-year-old draughtsman trainee Justin. The robust structure invites children and young people to hang out.

  • a street soccer pitch with raised seating is not only attractive for hobby kickers. During local fetes and other events, it also doubles as a stage for dancers or musicians.

  • two boule lanes were created at the initiative of the senior citizens. However, it quickly emerged that boule is not only a sport for the elderly.

Facts & Figures

  • 16th February 2012: a first planning meeting with representatives of the Alice Salomon College, the management of the neighbourhood, the youth welfare office, the town planning office, the parks department, the JFE Eastend and the Kids & Co Association. This meeting initiated the comprehensive process of civic involvement and shared project development.

  • 28th April 2012: Festival of Ideas at the still vacant site. Neighbours of all ages were interviewed and invited for the subsequent workshops of ideas. First suggestions were recorded.

  • 25th August 2012: local fete with name-giving ceremony. The vacant urban wasteland was turned into the Helle Oase (Light Oasis). The utilisation concept, which was developed in a participatory manner, was introduced to the public.

  • 17th October 2012: ground breaking for the design of the open space and Citizens Garden. The paths were produced mainly in manual labour and the individual partial projects were tackled step by step. Young people, undergoing vocational orientation at the workshops of KIDS & CO, joined in. They built foundations, set the boundary stones, levelled spaces, produced the playhouse and benches as well as the imaginatively painted wooden fence. A first group of interested neighbours came together to design the garden area. They spent their free time in all kinds of weather, building the raised flowerbeds, shovelling the earth and looking forward to spring.

  • 29th October 2012: handing over the Nature Preservation Award to the Helle Oase. “The contribution to the competition convinced the jury especially through the originality and the character as a role model”, is what the renowned polar explorer and book author Arved Fuchs said at the awarding ceremony. “The project makes a special contribution to augmenting awareness for nature conservation, biological diversity and a sustained use of nature and at the same time it motivates people to display personal commitment for nature.”

  • 13th April 2013: the young children’s play area was opened with a colourful spring fete. It is based on the ideas of young parents, who lacked public play opportunities for the youngest. Above all, Nancy Zosel, aged 33, and mother of two young children was very committed, she removed debris and thicket from the area and recruited many sponsors for playground equipment.

  • 10th June 2013: start of construction for the hammock lounge and street soccer court. The design for the second largest hammock lounge of Berlin was provided by 18-year-old Justin. The draughtsman trainee underwent a placement with an architectural office and was supported competently in the structural calculations. Justin participated actively also in setting up the hammock lounge, he was helped by a number of further young men from the wood workshop of KIDS & CO, who used this opportunity to acquire practical skills of carpentry at the same time.

  • 7th November 2013: the wild orchard with different varieties of apple, quince, morello cherry, walnut, hazelnut, elderberry as well as black and white mulberry was created in a large public tree-planting campaign. There were eight strong birches planted along the main path. Two sweet cherry trees at the head ends of the recently opened boule lanes and four maple trees on the fringes of the playground are to provide shade, bear fruit and render the area of 4,000 sq.m even greener and more beautiful. There were sponsors found for all trees, which they planted and looked after subsequently.

  • 7th November 2013: handing over the award as “Place of Ecological Learning” of the district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf to Helle Oase. District Councillor Christian Gräff handed over the prize money in the amount of EUR 500.

Initiators and Cooperators

„Helle Oase“ (Light Oasis) is a project of the neighbourhood initiative “Schaff Dir Platz!“ in which not only the project organisers KIDS & CO g.e.V. took part, but also the neighbourhood management of Quartiersmanagement Hellersdorfer Promenade, students of the project seminar called “Lead a more ecoLOGICAL LIFE” of the Alice Salomon College Berlin as well as the Youth Centre “Eastend” and the vocational training centre Health II as immediate neighbours to the project.

The design of the “Helle Oase” is part of a model project called “JUWEL – young people want to lead successful lives”, which has been sponsored since 2011 within the framework of the ESF national programme “BIWAQ – Education, Economy, Labour in the Neighbourhood” and has been a part of the local plan of action of the District Alliance for the Economy and Labour of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

Supporters and Sponsors

The project “Helle Oase” has been undertaken with the friendly support of the Liegenschaftsfonds.

Our special thanks goes to the following institutions, firms and enterprises who supported the building of the young children’s play area as “play-ground sponsors”:

We would also like to thank the following for material and financial donations:

Main points for 2014

  • continuing the gardening use of an enlarged area (more raised flowerbeds, vertical gardening etc.)

  • setting up a pavilion and a green pergola, made from timber, in the centre of the area

  • developing the cooperation with schools and kindergartens (projects etc.)

  • bicycle repair workshop (in cooperation with Eastend Berlin e.V.

  • “Do-it-yourself” workshops: Terra preta, vertical gardening, timber construction, upcycling etc.

  • garden fetes throughout the year (spring fete, summer beginning, autumn and harvest festivals, advent)

  • participating in Berlin-wide activities (“Long Day of Urban Nature”, Long Night of the Families”, “Fete de la Musique”)

  • setting up a straw bale building with a compost toilet (finance has been applied for)

  • setting up a “Bookboxx” as a free exchange station for second-hand books (finance has been applied for)

  • experience nature offer for families with children between 6 and 12 (finance has been applied for)

  • summer cinema in the garden (finance has been applied for)


Helle Oase photo gallery