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My husband Thomas, almost 3 year old daughter Anna and I live in a shared house near the end of a quiet dead end street in a town on the outskirts of Cologne, Germany.

The stucco homes with terracotta tiled roofs in this area were mostly built in the 60’s and 70’s and all the families that moved here then and had kids are now older couples living alone whose kids are completely grown and out of the house now. So with the exception of a pair of twins, slightly younger than Anna, living next door to us there aren’t any other little kids in our neighborhood.

When we moved to this house last year we discovered an old abandoned playground at the end of our street, only a few minutes walking distance from our home. As we only have a small common or shared yard in front of our house Anna and I would make frequent trips down to this old playground to play, dig in the sand and hang out in the shade of the large shade trees growing there.

This playground has a very large and rather expansive sandy spot which is now all grown over with weeds and grass

an old seesaw under the trees with a bench

and an area for table tennis that hasn’t been touched in decades it seems.

It doesn’t look like much and might not even be recognized as a playground if it weren’t for this sign declaring it so on the premises.

So when we found out at the beginning of the summer that the soil in the garden plot that we were using last summer was contaminated we thought why not put this out of the way and forgotten plot of land to some use… So we called the town hall. We asked if we could construct some raised beds there that Anna and I could plant vegetables in and care for.

The person we needed to speak with, however, was on vacation. So we waited. And waited. We called again several weeks later and finally got through to the person in charge. The supervisor of public use lands, including playgrounds, said we could do more than just plant a small garden there, she said we could adopt the playground! This meant that we could fix it up in anyway that we liked as long as it would still be accessible to the general public. We could even get free materials from the town like dirt/compost if we needed it! We got our paperwork in the mail in June saying (in German) that the playground was ours to care for and fix up as we liked. And that is how we came about constructing a few raised beds on the abandoned playground down the street from the house where we live.

To be continued…

Anna on the playground