The environmental education project in the Botanical Garden of the Francke Foundations received a great award. On 12 October 2018, the head of the Botanical Garden Cornelia Jäger was awarded the Sonja Bernadotte Prize for Ways to Nature Education. With this award, the German Horticultural Society 1822 e. V. and its president Prof. Dr. Klaus Neumann are paying tribute to the exemplary and above-average commitment of the biologist, who has been looking after up to 6000 visitors per year since 2008 in the Botanical Garden of the Francke Foundations, mainly pre-school and primary school children.
More than 300 years ago, the Lutheran theologian August Hermann Francke (1663–1727) laid out the first school garden in Germany in today's Francke Foundations. It was an integral part of the real-life teaching within the educational institution founded by him with schools for all children regardless of their origin. His concept was based on practical relevance and clarity. Since 2008, Cornelia Jäger has revived this garden tradition in the Botanical Garden. In the terraced garden area in the middle of the historical building ensemble of the Francke Foundations, she continues the concept of natural history teaching successfully applied by the founder of the foundation through practical experience. On the three terraces there is a »garden for all« for the children's self-bred plants, a bible garden, a pharmacy garden, an international garden and a biotope in connection with the history of the Francke Foundations. A greenhouse has been available for winter and bad weather lessons since 2009. Barrier-free access to the garden is guaranteed by raised beds.
The highlight of the garden year is the »Date Palm Celebration« for children and families, which opens the garden season. Symbolically, the date palm changes its place from the greenhouse to the bible garden. The garden receives 5000–6000 visits a year. Above all, it is the pre-school and primary school children who take advantage of the extensive offers for environmental education. They deal with the soil, grow their own plants or get to know aromatic and medicinal herbs. With the wide range of environmental education offers children can experiment with plants, colour or playfully discover the garden with all the senses. The focus of the work of the Botanical Garden is also the perpetuation of the school garden tradition. Since 2005, school garden lessons at the schools in Saxony-Anhalt have been integrated into the general education of primary schools. Cornelia Jäger passes on her experiences with regularly held environmental project days, observation offers and seminars for students of Educational Sciences of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg as well as advanced training days for teachers from schools all over Saxony-Anhalt.
The project »Environmental Education in the Teaching Garden of the Francke Foundations in Halle (Saale)« is supported by the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the Friends of the Francke Foundations.