Garden festivals give you the edge

Garden festivals give you the edge

On 2 November 2010, the Lower Saxony Ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Rural Development was a host to almost 30 participants in the Garden Festival Workshops and assured the local authority applicants of their support with the development of supporting measures – Alexander Burgath, the horticulture contributor in charge for the Ministry of Agriculture said verbatim: “We won’t leave local authorities stranded!”

The Support Organisation for Garden Festivals in Lower Saxony (FLN, in German: Fördergesellschaft Landesgartenschauen Niedersachsen) invited the hosts of previous garden festivals to give their reports and asked interested parties to discuss their particular basic approaches and considerations. The next two garden festivals in Lower Saxony are planned for 2014 and 2018, with a seven-year lead-up to the closing date. However, in some cases you have to be ready to cater for “anniversaries”, for instance, or other limiting factors, the State and Support Organisation pointed out, so variations are “justifiably” possible. Garden festivals are, according to their investigations and experiences, a “multi-functional” instrument of location development and urban marketing, Dr. Christoph Hauser, Landscape Architect from Vienna, pointed out in his introductory speech. The Managing Director of the 2007 Vöcklabruck and Ansfelden 2011 Garden Festivals in Austria and author of a dissertation on the topic of: “When garden festivals are useful for small towns,” summarised the numerous positive effects of this instrument and stressed that it could help to balance out the identified structure and spatial deficits, certainly with adequate preparation time.

“What has to be changed in my town?” was the question asked by someone considering applying for the development work. Representatives, mostly mayors or planning and tourism representatives of the towns Helmstedt, Papenburg, Syke and Cloppenburg and of the municipalities Sögel and Bruchhausen-Vilsen as well as Wiesmoor, learned why Winsen – despite a deficit in the implementation budget – still maintains that the garden festival was “the best” thing that could have happened to the town, states Angelika Bode, Mayoress of the town of Winsen/Luhe.
A topic for discussion and speech was also the successful implementation of the recent Bad Essen Garden Festival 2010, despite a tight budget and extremely short preparation time. Its Managing Director Heinrich Sperling suggested that a wide political acceptance, good teamwork at all levels, professional and very economical cost management add to the success and, occasionally, compressed preparation time, without disregarding technical measures – “everyone pulls together and works towards one goal, prompt decisions are reached.” Furthermore, the advice is not to set expectations too high with regards to visitor numbers - it is better “to leave a margin for success”. However, in each instance, garden festivals created a “winning margin compared with others,” stated Sperling, for whom Bad Essen was his tenth garden festival. Also, Mayor Michael Esken from the small town of Hemer in North Rhine-Westphalia, which had also organised a garden festival this year, promoted the garden festival instrument. “It was fantastic!” he raved. “The garden festival has provided us with 20 to 25 years of a head start in our investments and in our location marketing.” Also, Wiesmoor, that had initially given back its bonus, appears now to be interested in organising a garden festival. Its Manager for Business Development, Gerold Schoon, explained that the town has already used the feasibility study and had some debates on what is to be developed in Wiesmoor, and “has put a process into operation.”

“We are very optimistic about the future of garden festivals in Lower Saxony! Based on the clear level of interest and the good number of applicants – and not all the interest has come from Hanover – the power of impact of this instrument reveals the sustainability for local authorities,” said Uwe Krebs, the President of the Association of Horticulture, Landscaping and Sports Ground Construction in Lower Saxony-Bremen. And Siegfried Dann, President of the supervisory board of the FLN, drummed up support: “They should tackle further projects courageously! Garden festivals and green issues have positive connotations for people – it’s about quality of life!”

Interested local authority applicants can apply to the Support Organisation or also to the Ministry of Agriculture in Hanover:
Harald Mikulla –Managing Director-, Fördergesellschaft Landesgartenschauen Niedersachsen mbH, Johann-Neudörffer-Strasse 2, D-28355 Bremen, Tel.: 0421 - 53 64 161,


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