Nearby, a frog croaks, birds chirp, and early insects hum softly.

They feel comfortable here, especially when spring awakens.

The table is richly set for small animals, and there are also places for nest building, both in the open air and in insect hotels.

The birds can nest in the apple hedge "Malus Everest".

It's just beginning to bloom, in autumn the blossoms turn into small apples, edible but quite sour, as Gabriele Schaar-von Römer explains.

The hedge is intended to show visitors to the Hanau Environment Center's natural garden an ecological alternative to fence borders made of wood, plastic or stone.

Luise Glaser-Lotz

Correspondent for the Rhein-Main-Zeitung for the Main-Kinzig district.

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The ecological adventure garden was created 20 years ago as an important part of the new environmental center.

In the meantime it has developed into a small natural paradise in which children and adults alike can experience the concerns and importance of nature for all living beings.

Only there is a prairie bed with hardy North American perennials, grasses and herbs as a model for home gardeners or a pizza bed on which grows everything you need for a healthy pizza topping: oregano, tomatoes, zucchini and onions.

After the harvest, pizza is baked together.

"Some children still look in vain for the salami tree," says Schaar-von Römer with a smile.

Green Classroom Project

The environmental educator, consultant and manager has been in charge of the educational institution from day one.

She herself can hardly believe how much time has passed since then and what has been accomplished.

The house was founded as part of the State Garden Show 2002 in Hanau.

For three years, Hesse financed the center with one and a half jobs.

When the funding period expired, the city decided to continue running the facility under its own management.

Today, four employees share three jobs, plus 25 freelancers, all proven experts and educators, as Schaar-von Römer proudly states.

She can put an exact figure on the number of visitors and participants in courses and events: 172,420 within 20 years.

In addition to courses, mainly for kindergarten children and school classes as part of the "Green Classroom" project and further training events for teachers and educators, the center is dedicated to the implementation of numerous projects.

When asked what her favorites are, Schaar-von Römer doesn't think twice: she names the green belt and the network for sustainability as favourites.

The environmental center is an integral part of the pilot project to develop a sustainable tourism concept for the Main-Kinzig district as part of the federal program "Stadt-Land-Fluss".

According to her, Schaar-von Römer has also succeeded in gaining numerous partners from society, politics and educational institutions to participate in the sustainability process she initiated.

The goal is,

The manager sees the great interest of large Hanau companies as a special feature.

Numerous partnerships have emerged, as well as the city of Hanau's sustainability award, an environmental rally by the Ikea furniture store and a series of lectures by the savings bank.

The environmental center is also responsible for the design of the "Green Ring", which is considered one of the most important nature conservation projects in Hanau.

Released in Mongolia

When Schaar-von Römer came to Hanau 20 years ago, she was amazed at the many green spaces in the city and the nature reserves that stretch around the industrial city.

The idea was soon born to network these areas and to open them up to the citizens as a closed local recreation area.

The green belt now includes 15 nature reserves and a stretch of 60 kilometers.

That's about four hours of pure travel time by bike, says Schaar-von Römer, who has often ridden the self-contained ring road.

It is also important to plan time to linger and discover natural beauties, for example in the rustic Schilflache moor area or in the romantic Bulauwald.

Hikers usually take a selected section on foot.

A system of signposts

Signs and information boards show the way.

The routes are also marked on a separate map.

If you would like to set off under guidance, you can book excursions through the environmental center.

Schaar-von Römer also sees bright eyes when the subject of the Przewalski horses in the Campo Pond nature reserve comes up.

In 2009, Hanau was the first city to take part in the offspring program for the original horses originally from Mongolia.

Since then, the animals have been grazing on the valuable sandy grassland.

Two mares born in Hanau were released in Mongolia in 2019.

More are to follow.

The Environment Center organizes guided tours of the paddock and of the terrain, which thanks to the horses has developed a variety of rare specimens of fauna and flora.

There are also guided tours about bats or insects.

According to Schaar-von Römer, the blue-winged grasshopper is the current hit for children who have their own events and holiday games: when it spreads its wings, they shine in bright blue.

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