Franz moved from Austria to Lincoln in 1969 when he got a job at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a professor in the English Department. As a child growing up about thirty miles south of Salzburg in Austria, Franz remembers the schrebergärtens (allotment gardens) at the periphery of the city, where people would go to grow fruits and vegetables.
In Austria…there is something in cities called a Schrebergarten.With each plot featuring various types of food grown by different people, Franz finds ideas for growing new crops each year and has help with his experimentations from the other gardeners. While he grows the same staples each year, like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, and herbs, Franz tries at least one new crop every year.
“It was a community,” Franz recalls, “and that’s one of the things that attracted me to this one as well.” Within his gardens here in Lincoln, Franz most enjoys talking to the other gardeners, many of whom are from different countries, communicating about what they grow in their plots. Even though everyone may not speak the same language, they all come together in the gardens with similar goals and mutual interests, which help to break down any barriers created by differences in language and culture.
I discovered…that a goodly portion of the crops gardeners were from other countries. And to me that was a real bonus…because I came from a different country as well.
With each plot featuring various types of food grown by different people, Franz finds ideas for growing new crops each year and has help with his experimentations from the other gardeners. While he grows the same staples each year, like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, and herbs, Franz tries at least one new crop every year.
Every year I try to do a new thing that I haven’t grown before. Otherwise I do the staples, tomatoes particularly because I think there is a huge difference between growing them yourself and buying them in the store.
He admits to some casual bartering in the garden, trading some of his San Marzano tomatoes for something interesting he found in the plot of a gardener originally from Africa. Franz highly values the culture of sharing and collaboration fostered within the community gardens, often contributing his tomatoes and peppers to the share table for other gardeners to enjoy.
In contemplation of the coming growing season with the Antelope garden’s small yet diverse community of gardeners, Franz relates: “For me, that was a real bonus because I met some people from different countries that I would not have otherwise gotten to meet. I get to get out there in the morning; I just enjoy the birds, and the cool weather, and the sun coming up. I suppose I was pleasantly surprised that I could actually grow things. And so I enjoy tending things and watching them grow.”