Sebastian Niedermaier runs an organic market garden not far from Bamberg’s pedestrian zone. We found him amongst his garlic, ginger and turmeric
Gardener Sebastian Niedermaier
Gardening in the heart of a World Heritage Site – Sebastian Niedermaier runs an organic market garden not far from Bamberg’s pedestrian zone – enjoying a heady blend of tradition and experimentation. Vegetables have been grown in this cathedral city since medieval times. Known as the Garden City, Bamberg has long been denoted a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A wide variety of tomatoes – yellow, dark red, even striped – are thriving in the greenhouse. And the watermelons, which grow out in the field with Bamberg as a backdrop, are almost ripe.
After training in horticulture and travelling around the world, Sebastian Niedermaier has now returned to his home city to run a business that once belonged to his great-grandfather. He sells most of his fruit and vegetables in his farm shop.
Niedermaier is passionate about his work – and the 13th generation of a long line of gardeners. His market garden is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Garden City of Bamberg. “For me, tradition means fire, not ashes,” explains this local gardener, who loves to experiment with a good mix of old and new, with great success.
“We just do everything a little differently,” he says. “We offer veg boxes on subscription, but the customers collect them from us themselves. Even in our farm shop, we only sell our own, home-grown organic fruit and vegetables. That’s the only way I can guarantee the very highest quality for my customers.”
“I still store our vegetables in the ground through the winter as people used to do"
Centuries ago, the gardeners of Bamberg used to export their own varieties of seeds and vegetables far beyond the city’s borders. One particular speciality was liquorice, which grows well in the sandy soil and was sold as a sweetener as far afield as London and Venice.
That trade is no longer viable, but in order to preserve the tradition of planting liquorice, for the past two years Sebastian Niedermaier has been cultivating this plant in his greenhouse again. He is also helping to save ancient varieties such as Bamberg garlic and Bamberg savoy cabbage.
At the same time, he is also a young buck who keeps coming up with new ideas: “I still store our vegetables in the ground through the winter as people used to do, but I also grow plants that are not commonly found in Bavaria, such as watermelon, ginger and turmeric.
Plus we offer improv theatre and other cultural events,” says Niedermaier, who is also committed to employing people with disabilities and dreams of setting up a small pop-up cooperative deli where he can serve sandwiches made with his own vegetables.
Get to know Bamberg’s gardening tradition
He has plenty of tips to offer anyone who wishes to experience the garden city for themselves, starting with a visit to his farm shop. But that’s only the beginning. Bamberg boasts the Garden and Vintner Museum, a Garden Circular Walk and a viewing tower that looks out across the Garden City. Naturally, there are also guided tours such as the Eat-the-World tour. On some tours of the city, participants call past Sebastian Niedermaier’s farm shop.
More about Sebastian's organic market garden in Bamberg sebastian-niedermaier.de (only in German)
... from Sebastian
I like the Spezial Keller, which is near the observatory, just a short walk from Bamberg Old Town. It offers a fantastic view of the city. In summer you can sit there in comfort under old plane trees and enjoy regional beer and Franconian cuisine.
spezialkeller.de (only in German)
Historic "Rauchbierbrauerei Schlenkerla"
I love visiting the historic Rauchbierbrauerei Schlenkerla. They make a regional speciality – Rauchbier, or smoke beer. You can get your beer and drink it outside in the street. That’s something we locals like to do.
"Untere Brücke" in Bamberg
When I have time I enjoy watching the sunset on the Lower Bridge. From there you have a really lovely view of the Regnitz River and the half-timbered buildings of the fishing district.