An experiment in sustainable gastronomy
by Agustina Bullrich
Inside a round leaf, twelve rolling letters spell the words Café Botanico. The logo and sign at the entrance are the perfect visual synthesis for what you’ll find in this restaurant three steps down the ground level, a mix of coziness, freshness and an experimental spirit. Located in Neukölln, one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhoods in Berlin, this farm-to-table restaurant brings diversity to the kitchen directly from their 1000m2 hidden garden on the backyard. Based on the principles of permaculture, which conceive farming as a collaboration with nature rather than a man-made way of exploiting the earth, their garden hosts more than 200 edible plants all year round.
The café-restaurant offers a selection of Italian Cuisine dishes which make use of their own garden harvest. Many other ingredients, however, need to be purchased, in which case they make sure that at least one of the following attributes apply: direct purchase from the producer (farm-to-table), regional/local, ecological, fair, artisanal production and if possible, without long delivery routes.
In the spirit of transparency, the processes and suppliers are discussed in their website, where you can also find some insights on the project from its founder, permaculture gardener Martin Höfft. In his own words “Café Botanico is about transition or, as some sociologists call it, transformation design, that is, how we can help shape the transition to a more sustainable society”
The essence of Café Botanico as an experiment in sustainable gastronomy is most successfully met in its signature dish, the salad. While its vegetables and fruit ingredients vary according to each season’s gifts, the aromatic wild herbs are there almost all year round, this is a treasure worth trying.
In tandem with the gastronomy side of the project and in the vein of inspiring others, Café Botanico offers guided tours in English through their garden, where you can learn the basics of permaculture and try some herbs.
Richardstraße 100, 12043 Berlin
Words and photos: Agustina Bullrich
This article was taken from our Autumn / Winter 22/23 edition:
Treetop Travel Journalism runs monthly magazine projects for students in Berlin