New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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1935 by Beate Hahn – ‘Hooray, We Sow and Harvest!’

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Published in Germany – A Garden Book For Children

By Beate Hahn (Horticulturist)
(The author is the mother of famous landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander)
1935 Wilh, Gottl, Korn Verlag, Breslau, Printed in Germany, 110 pages
(This translation was kindly done by Evelyne Teichert.)


Today is yet another grim, cold day in November. Outside the wind is blowing through the streets, urging snowflakes along high up into the air. It roars around the street corner, and anyone who meets it will be blown down. This is quite ugly weather, and everyone is happy when they can once again sit in their warm home.

Here in our home a bright wood fire is crackling in the fireplace. When all the big and the small people have completed their daily tasks, we assemble around the red sheen of the fire, because father tells us stories. Mother says that this way she’ll never be able to mend all the torn children’s clothes, but everyone else thinks it is marvelous. If Peter and Lore move over just a bit, then you too will be able to join us on the bench by the fire and listen in. We also have a baked apple for you. you can hear them already crackling in the oven. Lisel, the oldest among us, gets up from time to time to tend to them.

But now father begins to talk, and everyone gets very quiet. Father is not allowed to speak too loudly though, otherwise our little Hanna, who is already sleeping in the next room, will wake up. Then mother will need to look after her and won’t be able to sit with us, and father never continues a story without mother. Father has a very special way of telling stories, and everyone, big and small, each in their own way, is able to follow him well. It is no easy task to find a story that we can all equally enjoy, for Lisel is already a big, sensible girl with a thick, long braid. She will graduate from school in two years, but Peter and Lore are two and three years younger than her.

Recently we listened to old legends, but two nights ago father said that he wanted to tell us stories that we are already familiar with – at this point father and mother both smiled mysteriously – but he was sure that we would never tire of hearing them. We were of course extremely curious to hear what he would tell us, and yesterday when he started to talk, he sounded more solemn than usual:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

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Yes, we already know these stories from school, but it is so very different to hear them when father tells them slowly and vividly. One can see everything in front of one’s eyes so very clearly! You have all the time in the world to imagine each picture, one by one, without fearing to be called upon for an answer like at school! Father only tells his stories in small pieces. That way, we are able to remember them much better.

Today he continues with the story of Adam and Eve, and so in our imagination we join him on a walk through the Garden of Eden.

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Then we hear which waters flow through the garden, and how God places Adam into the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it”. Father concludes the evening with the expulsion from paradise.

“So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed in front of the Garden of Eden cherubims with flaming swords flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

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When father has finished speaking, we like to sit together for awhile and think about what we have just heard. Tonight Peter is particularly thoughtful at the end of the story, and finally he quietly blurts out, “Father, do you really think that none of us will ever live in such a beautiful garden again?” Peter’s voice sounds so disheartened that everyone turns toward him, even though we cannot quite see his face in the darkness of the room. Father thinks indeed that we’ll never again live in the Garden of Eden, but both he and mother are quite certain that we can create gardens here on earth that are almost as beautiful as Paradise. Peter is still not satisfied, and finally he sighs deeply and says with an even quieter voice, “How nice it would be if we too had such a garden!” We all agree with him from the bottom of our hearts, because none of us likes the big city with its treeless streets.

“Indeed, without our participation, we will never again return to such a garden”, father says, “but if we dedicate all our efforts and all our love to the growing of plants, then through the perseverance of our hands we will create a garden of paradise. And the more we work at it and learn to overcome any difficulties, the more we will love it and be happy to live in it. However, if we lose track even one single moment or let ourselves go, then we will move further away from our goal.” Father has become very serious now as he tells us how much work and love it takes to create a garden, and how many disappointments one must overcome along the way. Nevertheless, even Lisel now is sighing, and she too expresses her great wish to have a garden, but her voice is so quiet that we can hardly hear her. Father and mother might be thinking that she is not as happy as parents may want to see their child, but she is unable to completely suppress her desire for such a garden. At this very moment the fire’s blaze suddenly lights up and in the light (glimmer?) we see that father has taken mother’s hand, and that both of them are smiling at each other with deep understanding and certainty.

Maybe, after all, we will live in such a garden one day.

The complete book can be found on various used book sites.

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