Heike Boomgaarden

Ashoka Fellow
Erbach, Germany
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Heike Boomgaarden was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
On the basis of her experience with urban greening projects garden and media, expert Heike Boomgaarden created the first holistic urban gardening concept, which is applicable on a city or district level, customized to local needs and restrictions and which involves both city administration as well as central stakeholders such as citizen groups for sustained impact and an overall change of urban greening culture.
Key to her approach, which has successfully been implemented within the award-winning "Essbare Stadt Andernach" (Edible Town Andernach) in Germany, is the idea of moving issues like biodiversity, soil improvement, permaculture and planting of edibles from a niche practice into the actual center of civic attention. She does so through systematically and sustainably reshaping public areas in city centers by developing and implementing planting concepts with regional, diversified and mostly edible plants. All are available for all citizens to harvest free of cost. The effect is manifold; due to actively involving a broad range of citizens and giving them responsibility, there is a rising understanding and a strengthened identification of citizens with sustainability related issues in their surroundings. Also, her work creates new low-barrier education opportunities and jobs around eco-human development and reaches a significant cost reduction for city administrations through the change in greening and caretaking concepts for public spaces – a key selling point to cities, which face ever more restricted budgets.
This way, Heike offers practical solutions for urban settings and enables them to follow a trend, whose time has come: the growing need for serious sustainable development on the one hand and citizen demand for cities with high quality of life on the other. Making use of her media background, Heike markets the implemented projects broadly – and successfully. This allows not only to position them as brand-building role model projects, but also sends the message that fundamental change is possible and attracts followers to come.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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