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Datscha Radio at MediaLab Prado

11. März 2018. I meet Daniel Sigler at the Casa Encendida where he reads silently the El Pais while I discuss the (then) future Datscha Radio with the Radio Hortelana ladies Elena and Carolina. It is the day of the agricultural market in the Retiro Park, so after a quick side trip to Esta es Una Plaza, Daniel and I walk up to the park. He carries a huge umbrella that provides also a bit of shelter for the microphone that I had to switch on as we „talk garden“ for most part of our conversation already. Daniel is one of the foundesr of „La Cabaña del Retiro“, a „garden in the garden“, a place for horticultural education, self empowerment, and spiritual well-being. He is also a teacher of Shia-tsu, and his views on the corporeal and spiritual elements in gardening are well-grounded and for a great part based on Eastern philosophy and medicinal knowledge.

Daniel Sigler

The Cabaña was started about 14 years ago with a handful of volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood. From 60 m2 it was continually extended over the years and spans now more than 145 m2 situated on the eastern flank of the park. Currently there are up to 20-30 people regularly tending the garden and/or taking part in the multitude of activities offered within the frame of the Cabaña’s educational programs. Daniel teaches the art of holistic gardening, with a strong focus of inclusion, ecological education and self empowerment. All materials come from recycling and/or left-overs from other building activities in the Retiro: Boards, stones, sand and soil. The garden paths between the plots are wide enough to be accessible for people in wheelchairs, there are spaces for communication (“The lover’s meeting point”), meditation (a geodetic dome) and teaching (inside the actual house). A path leads up the terraces to a scenic lookout over the garden grounds.

The Cabaña belongs, like all other gardens I have been to, to the Red de los Huertos Communitarios, the Madrid network of urban gardens. The „Aula Ambiental“, the place’s „ecological classroom“ forms the offers courses and workshops on plant care and environmental awareness for children and adults alike. In addition, there are periodical invitations to conferences and excursions to natural spaces and environmental facilities.

Entrance of Cabaña

Still life in Cabaña

Still life in Cabaña (educational)

Still life in Cabaña (educational)

Where you can learn

While we walk on the paths I notice that there are more „ornamental flowers“ present than formerly encountered in other urban gardens. „No, we don’t ban flowers from our garden“, says Daniel. The practical and the beautiful both serve the environment, be it animals or humans.“ While he picks some salad for the market I take my documentary pics. It is almost 3 in the afternoon on our arrival at the market of the „El Huerto del Retiro“, a more „classical“ urban garden by way of its organization and horticultural lay-out (plus the biggest insect hotel i have ever seen). Alas, the market stalls are almost deserted by now (Spanish people don’t like the rain)! There is craft beer, organic cheese and honey. There is or was still more, yet i admit, I was very hungry by that time and needed a meal more than anything else…

View from enjoying a craft beer

XXXL Insect hotel

On our way to this huerto we passed some bellis growing next to some daisies in the grass. Those seeds got carried over the fence from the community garden, says Daniel. Later I look at the Madrid map of urban gardens: Somehow, I find, there is a resemblance…

Daisies and bellis

Map urban gardens Madrid

 

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Preparations

22. March 2018
Very well… we started to prepare the „domo“ around 6 the evening before. The place was swarming with young parents and their toddlers, some gardeners, idle youngsters… Eva brings a big green box that contains her herbarium. We swept the gravel off the floor, wiped the table, found some chairs (one in the trash close to the entrance) and stuck a handful of remaining posters to the walls of the neighborhood. We passed a blue-eyed dog in a duffle coat (Madrid dogs often wear coats as long as the temperatures are still below 15 degrees:) and went for a beer.

 

 

Radio Gardening in Madrid

23. March 2018. Meeting at 9:15 at the entrance of Esta es Una Plaza; Caroline of Radio Hortelana had already opened the gate. Setting-up: All went well – thanks to ingenious Jesús of Medialab who had already made some tests the day before. Just like with Datscha Radio 17, we use the „Butt“-app for streaming and transmit via Udo Noll’s aporee streaming server.
The Plaza’s cat makes its appearance.
10:20 Eva, Kata and Joaquín arrive. Plants, sensors and watering cans are arranged next to the high bed of homeless cacti.
Maite takes pictures for the In-Sonora docu. Carolina has brought coffee, her Kalimba and a guitar.
11:50 Alberto of Esta es Una Plaza turns up. We are all happy and exited.

1st – 3rd hour

12:00 Here we go! Hola! Datscha Radio a tope!
After the introductions Carolina plays her kalimba to the sounds of gushing rain: An anti-rain spell that we hope will protect us from worse. Because rain for Madrid people is the most welcome excuse to stay at home! Apart from that, our electricity is provided from a solar battery – we are indeed a very ecological radio station!

13:00 Our program flows smoothly! A roughly by the hour organized schedule serves for orientation, all artists are bilingual, so we manage quite well with the translations.

Below you’ll find (later!!!!) an updated version of the program plan – the audio files will be shared on mix cloud asap (but not before 3rd of April). For now, let us look at some of the radio events of the day. Have fun!

14:15 Rain has finally come. Kata and Joaquín perform an astonishing set with plant radio music, sensors transforming the moisture levels of different plant pots and the green’s voltage into a soundscape with harmonica. The cat loves it so much, it goes to sit on the roof just above our heads. A talk about listening and the rain. Unfortunately the solar energy runs out…

 

Power cut!

For some minutes we still broadcast on batteries but then we decide to interrupt our program.

14:45 Datscha Radio is back again on the air waves! One of the gardeners provided a connection from his neighboring house to the studio! The rain has stopped, the cat gets back in.

4rd – 6th hour…

We continue with the theme of plant talks: Eva Kurly presents her herbarium and introduced the African all-edible Moringa tree. Carolina plays and sings a poem from Argentinia. Santiago, who was working outside comes in an explains what they are presently building. Alberto has prepared two interviews about plant names and balcony plants with his parents. A delightful conversation, each one made over the telephone, the crackling interference in their voices making us forget the digital age.

17:00 A storm of theatre people blows into our tent: They are scheduled for a show in a venue nearby but somehow found this garden. Despite being in a hurry they improvise a vocal piece for us:) Listening to an interview from India about the Botanic Sanctuary in Gurukula and the preservation of vegetal microclimates. Appearance of Rafa from the artist organization The Hug. He brings music of Lau Mau, a Finnish singer whose work is closely connected to nature themes.

17:50 We still have unplayed recordings, yet it’s time for a resume of the broadcast material. Maite comes back and reintroduces the work of In-Sonora and talks about the festival planned for the next day.
18:00 The official end is postponed by half an hour because of the program interruption. We listen to Miyuki Jokiranta’s vocal encounters with her houseplants and finally to two excerpts of the „Atomic Garden“ by Alberto.
18:30 A gathering around the microphones, Thank you, dear listeners! Datscha Radio a tope!!!

 

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Almost all of us: Carolina, Eva, Kata, Jesús, Joaquin and Alberto

Dear all and all listeners,

I am still surprised and very happy: Datscha Radio happend in Madrid, in a garden, in a tent, with sunshine, rain, a fabulous cat, with gardeners, musicians, surprise guests and even a power cut in electricity!

None of this would have been possible without the support and activities of

Alberto Garcia, Anna Katarina Martin, Carolina Carrubba, Elena Arroyo, Eva Pilartes, Jesús Jara, Joaquin Diaz, Maite Camacho…

… and the community of Esta Es Una Plaza: Alberto, Santiago, Luis, Tommi and all the gardeners.

Many thanks also to Udo Noll/aporee.org for providing the stream!

Tomorrow: Presentation of the work (as well as the work of some other artists residing here at Medialab at 6pm!

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21st March 2018

The air was fresh but the sun was shining and the lawns lit up in dreams in pink, white and black: For once in these times of preparing for the radio at the “Plaza” I did what is a tradition among the Madrid people! I went to the Parque La Quinta de los Molinos to wander among the budding and blooming almond trees. I had myself photographed under a tree (like everybody) and I took selfies (like everybody). Wonderful!

Get these pictures:) (Some other info about the park and its trees will follow)

 
 
 
 
 

 
 


 

 

 

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Design: Alberto Garcia

Esta es Datscha Radio Madrid! Estaremos emitiendo el 23 de marzo de las 12 del mediodía a las 6 de la tarde, en directo desde el jardín urbano en la Calle Doctor Fourquet.

Datscha Radio es una radio efímera, aquí y ahora! Todo el mundo está invitado a venir, compartir y participar. Te esperamos!

Escucharás sonidos de los jardines de Madrid, conversaciones sobre arte, plantas y horticultura, conciertos en directo e improvisaciones. Datscha Radio Madrid está colaborando con Esta es una Plaza, MediaLab Prado, Aporee.org y Radio Hortelana, en el marco de la décima edición de In Sonora.

Vamos a retransmitir en streaming, desde datscharadio.de, y en la frecuencia 107.3 FM. Tráete la radio! Ven con tus historias de jardín! Ven a la Datscha! Datscha a tope!!

      1. DR18 - Datscha Radio

 

Esta es Datscha Radio Madrid! We will broadcast on the 23rd of March from 12-6pm directly from the urban garden in the Calle Doctor Fourquet.

Datscha Radio is a temporary radio station and invites you to come, share and participate.

You’ll hear the sounds of Madrid gardens, talks about art and horticulture, live concerts and improvisations. Datscha Radio Madrid happens in cooperation with: Esta es una Plaza, MediaLab Prado, aporee and Radio Hortelana.

We’ll transmit on stream on datscharadio.de, and on location on 107.3 fm. Bring your radio! Bring your garden stories! Go Datscha! Datscha a tope!

 

 

 

 

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The district of Batán borders on the Casa del Campo park, the neighborhood is a mixture of appartment blocks for the not-so-rich, sports grounds, and still fairly big patches of wasteland. A winding road takes us – about 500 meters further – to the urban garden of Batán, one of the first in Madrid.

Irene, who founded the garden with her community

Things to do

Irene Prins was one among those first founders, then in 2012, in fact, she initiated the project. Our talk takes us from the need to create a place for oneself to the ramifications of the 15th of May Movement in 2011. Irene stuck notes to the walls and trees in the neighbourhood to find people willing to set up a garden space in the area. Over 30 came. “Before this revolutionary movement happened”, she said, “maybe the interest wouldn’t have been so great. But this idea of selfempowerment and taking on responsibilty for the places and communites we live in, was just too important”.

Batán No.1: The original location of the garden was some 50 meters distant. It is smaller and is now cultivated into a forest garden.

Soon afterwards, the Huerto de Batán began to connect to other urban gardens in the city, “there were maybe 4 or 5 of them” – and this was the beginnung of the “Red le los huertos communales en Madrid”. La Red, the network, now counts around 50 urban gardens in the municipality of Madrid. The work is done by volunteers, but the city occasionally supports the gardeners in gaining acess to some rescources like extra soil, organic fertilizers, and water. Yet in their very beginnings, Batán gardens were just a squat and the water was “siphoned off” a communal pipe.

The pond

As we sit in the sun with the distant noise of the A 18 motorway in our back, the conversation shifts from politics and communal issues to the permacultural design of the garden which is clearly organized in terrasses, and planted with a thoughtful mix of (still young) trees, supporting shrubs, herbs, occasional flowers and of course, a diversity of vegetables. There are also a pond and a beehive… too silent this latter one for this time of the year: “We’ll have to wait. Maybe there is still hope, there was so much honey there the last year and we left it all to the bees. But it is strange, not to see a single bee…”

Irene shows me around the plots that in some places spout bushy clews of “habas” (broad beans), there is  timid rhubarb, rosemary and salads. There is also grass, stone, wood, mulch made from twigs, and an irrigation system (saw no Spanish garden without one so far). The garden’s special point is to turn annual vegetables into perennial ones, something that can work quite well with cabbages for example. I get also introduced to a garden plant entirely new to me, the Siberian Pea. Hardy, sturdy and with a stem and branches, a pea bearing shrub… !!!

One last question (podcast of this will be available at some later point) touches our personal relationship to the plant life. Yes, there is , if not actual talk but ‘thinking’ to the plant and a sincere feeling of respect and gratitude. Irene holds that connecting to the earth also connects us better to our lives and fellow human beings, because “it is all about caring”, she says.
There is nothing to add… except some images and the following links.

 

 

 

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16. Marzo 2018

19:30 Visit to the Humus Film Fest, a brilliant idea! 16 short films in 4 categories about urban gardening: Experimental (missed but one half of the last one), comedy, documentary, fantastic.
Some glimpses here: pole dance with potted plant, hilarious GoT-adaption, Esta es Una Plaza selling veggies as drugs (won a prize!), french refugee gardener (best in the category of docus to my mind), rapping youngsters, compost zombies, lots of food… Alberto Peralta doing fabulous moderation (they also won the fantastio prize – dealing carrots – ), craft beer, running into Elena and Carolina of Radio Hortelana.

22:00 Walking home (sounds of helicopters and police cars.  Pondering about some evident links of (Spanish) popular music/movie culture to urban gardening… I think this is different in Germany. Also: a definite emphasis on action. Taking a mental note to ask Señor Peralta. Seeing this:

  

22:15 Editing new Madrid sound field composition for the performance next day.

1:00 Sleep

17. Marzo 2018

8:00 Coffee (3)
Weather check: devastating. It is raining and cold. I don’t know how many times I have been told now that Madrid people hide at home when there is rain outside.

10:00 Dressing while bouncing the new piece

11:00 Setting up the Oficina des las plantas sin hogar with Alberto Garcia and Rosalia. We use the plants from the cantina and the security office for decoration, it looks great!

View of the Open-Air Oficina

View of the Open-Air Oficina and Security Plant

A Senora tells Alberto about her plant.

Unpacking the Madrid version.

 12:00 Rain subsides. Sounds of a Demonstration in the nearby streets. Medialab is swarming with mothers, babies, media and video workshop participants. A lady wants to adopt the „security plant“. No es possible. But we get an interview about one of her favorite plants. Times passes with some more interviews. People are interested to adopt but most of them “forgot” to bring plants.

1:00 Start of performance, all goes well. A sparkling gem in the the new piece is a song about flowers sung by Romi Casiles’ grandma, Elvira Margarita Sturla. There’s beer and tortilla chips and a señora comes and donates two plants, a very grown-up „bad mother“ and an adolescent dieffenbachia (surprise?). She also wants to take „Dark Securita“ home, but I can only offer her a can of beer. A friendly guest, Fernando, consents to sing a melancholy song from Argentinia for Datscha Radio’s singing pool collection. Comida con mis ayudantes.

16:00 Knocked out by the two glasses of excellent wine received with my food and in need of a siesta. Watching a SF-movie about life after dead with Robert Redford instead.

18:00 Idle research in academic papers. Using keywords around „garden“, „dependency“, „permeation“ I come (next to „Species, Historicity, and Path Dependency“ across the psycholinguistc term of „garden-path-sentences“, its German equivalent being the „Holzwegeffekt“. Anyway, this is about misleading grammar structures and the different ways in which these can be interpreted and/or „parsed“ by the reader. I think of the straight paths in the gardens here in their combination with the frequently met labyrinths … Can we also understand/”parse” garden designs as a language… l i k e a language?

19:00 Sort the pics for this entry.

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Eva Kurly and Oscar Dominguez at the Hospital de Plantas

 It’s less than a 20 minutes drive into the western part of Madrid and we reach the community of Pozuelo, famous for its singular „Hospital de Plantas“. As we get out of the car, the air feels different. Humid, a bit „foresty“ with a tinge of swamp. The rain falls softly on my face and onto Eva’s umbrella as we make our way to the entrance of Aula de Educación Ambiental (Húmera).

Eva Kurly had worked here for three years and arranged the interview.

Main office

The area is huge. We walk past greenhouses, wooden office buildings, plots and raised beds, and a geodetic dome used as a surround cinema. One of the educational directives of this place is the fostering of sustainable energies and waste upcycling. We pass a dew collector, solar panels (one in the shape of a giant sunflower, that alines its movement with the course of the sun) and a solar oven.

Smart solar energy plant

The fences hold plastic bottles cut out to hold plants of all sorts… due to the season most of them are „wild herbs“. Again much of the work invested into the huertos is done by volunteers and/or within the frame of education classes organized by the municipality.

The Hospital de Plantas is run by Oscar Domínguez, a biologist who teaches about plants and plant deceases at the university. There are regular opening hours once a week at Wednesday 10-2, when the citizens can come and bring their sick plants. A cupboard holds a microscope and various instruments to examine the patients and decide on the treatment.

Patients get a label

Once hospitalized, the length of stay  depends on the recovery process. For some plants, this can take up to a year, like in the case of a leafless, shriveled bonsai. Oscar put another case on the „Mesa de tratamiento“, a deplorable looking orchid in possession of none but one (broken) areal root. He points at some knobs in the centre of the plant. There is still hope, he says.

A classical patient

A snails sails across the table. It will be put out into the open

With such a long stay, I ask, how often does it happen that the owners won’t fetch their plants back?
Often, Oscar says. People just give up too easily. They are not used to care for plants in a sincere way.
Yet, if a person cannot take care of a plant, this shows that this person is also neglecting his or her own personality, or at least part of it.

Hospital watering can

Our conversation, facilitated by Eva’s translation, consequently drifts to the psychological impacts of plant ownership and care. Older people for example would often prefer plants that are easy to care for and grow rather slowly while young people love quick growth and plants that produce an abundance of colors both in leaves and flowers.

– The interview is presently in the process of editing and will be online in due time –

 

Oscar Dominguez, Hospital de Plantas

A second branch of Señor Dominguez’ research work is the construction of vertical gardens and the exploration of their micro climates. The one shown here is wainscoted with felt and allows a natural circulation of water, light and microorganisms within the unit.

We leave the „Classroom of Environmental Education“ of Pozuelo for a little walk in the nearby Casa De Campo. Once a hunting ground for the royals it is now Madrid’s biggest park covering more than 1,750 hectares. (I leave the touristic details aside here). There is anthother hospital in the vicinity: A hospital for night birds. There is not much hope to meet somebody there. Eva tells me she’s tried already several times. We are more than surprised that the door actually opens…
Yet, cheered too soon: No, no es possible! The staff is just at lunch and the birds are sleeping and must not be disturbed.

 
 

Stork’ nest Casa de Campo

Very wide awake instead are the storks that keep flying almost around our heads. Bundles of twigs hang from their beaks and indeed, Eva points out to a huge nest in the top of a nearby tree.
Two other features of the Casa des Campo: Swarms of green parrots that also nest here and pose (as in many other cities – also in Germany – ) a treat to the native birds, especially the common sparrow (which grows less and less common). Second, hoards of ghostly shaped trees, with hollow trunks and often reaching into the air with one last twisted branch. We put the recorder for the bird sounds into the fork of one branch and walk around… there is this „silky grey“ filter on my camera I try out.

Nest of the “evil” green Parrot

Ghost movie trees

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