Martin, which one came first: The permaculture garden or the Botanico?
The garden came first. I have been an avid gardener for more than 20 years, mainly as a source of fresh produce for me and my family. Then, one day, I discovered this abandoned and completely overgrown allotment garden in Richard Street in Berlin and convinced the owner to let me cultivate it. In order to fund the lease and to sell the surplus produce we didn't need, I came up with the idea of opening a little café-restaurant. It all came down to my father-in-law Stefano Emili, who is an experienced cook from Rome and loves my salads made from wild herbs. We designed the garden and café as an integrated unit and made sure they harmonise with each other. A while ago, my father-in-law handed over the toque to Roland Schulze, a young chef from Berlin. He continued the restaurant in the Italian tradition and added a few hints of Berlin, for example a vegan chickpea-mayonnaise and garden herbs popcorn.
The basic idea may sound a little naive: a business becomes more successful if it is run in harmony with nature instead of against it. Surprisingly, it seems to work quite well.
Why do you favour vegetables and fruits from permaculture for your culinary creations?
It has much to do with our idealism, but also has many practical reasons: The concept of permaculture is one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture: The methods incorporate ecologic, economic and socio-cultural aspects and offer a pathway to optimising our living environment in a sustainable way in all of these areas. It goes way beyond simply maximising profits as fast as possible, but is rather concerned with the continuous improvement of the living conditions of everyone involved, as far as possible. The basic idea may sound a little naive: a business becomes more successful if it is run in harmony with nature instead of against it. Surprisingly, it seems to work quite well. And here comes the practical reason: You can buy a much bigger variety of fresher and more organic products with a lower input in terms of work, fossil energy and other resources. You let mother nature do the work for you, without exhausting her.
Lamb’s salad, rocket salad, avocado - what exactly should be grown?
That depends on your personal preferences, as well as on your own openness to be surprised by mother nature. Over time, this cultivation method becomes more sustainable than all other known cultivation systems, because the ecosystem is allowed to reproduce and replenish itself, rather than being exploited to the point of exhaustion.