“Where should we buy our fresh vegetables now?” a customer complains to Manfred Urban on the last sales Saturday in August at the Dillinger weekly market. The citizens of Dillingen and the surrounding area would have had to think about it earlier. The market garden Urban exists since 1936, but now it is over. Martina and Manfred Urban stop: The competitive pressure is too great, the weather too changeable, the revenue in relation to the work done is too low.
The daughters Elena and Madlen have encouraged the parents.
Manfred Urban grew up with the market garden. With the nappies out of the playpen, into the rubber boots and down to the field where the parents were working every day. He has worked as a gardener for 30 years and has never complained about the amount of work until the pressure has increased in recent years. “I felt stressed all the time.” Purchasing decisions need to be made quickly. What does the customer want? What is trendy? There is always something to organize, repair, you always have to be on site. The plants are like little children – they always want to be cared for. In the end, everything has to be perfect for the sale, whether once again the frost, hail or pests have gone in between. “Otherwise no one buys the goods from you and all the work was in vain.”
The market garden once counted six permanent employees, including the parents who helped and Martina and Manfred. Martina, a florist by profession, took care of the small flower shop in Dillinger city centre, organized Advent exhibitions in the greenhouses of the market garden, helped out in the weekly markets, was responsible for everyday family life and the two daughters. All this with great passion, talent and enthusiasm. Of course, there were moments when everything became too much, but the joy of growing and thriving the plants, the affirmation of the satisfied customers, the self-responsible action outweighed.
In the meantime, only Martina and Manfred manage the market garden. On the weekly markets, two long-standing assistants help them. They have given up the flower shop for a long time. Aldi, Lidl and Co. and not forgetting the DIY stores have spread throughout Dillingen and the surrounding area. Construction ground is cheap in the commercial area. Huge parking spaces attract customers to “all-in-one” shopping. In spring and summer there are flowers, young plants, herbal pots – at unbeatable prices. And since you’ve been here before, the EU-grown vegetables and fruits are nicely packaged in plastic and immediately taken away.
“The elderly, who still value tradition and buy lettuce plants for their own garden in the spring or need flowers for the cemetery, are dying out. The young people no longer buy an Advent wreath from the gardener, they can also find it in the supermarket,” explains Martina Urban. Martina and Manfred Urban take it with serenity, probably a result of many years of work with plants and nature.
You can feel the end of the market garden. The greenhouses are largely empty. Only peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, cucumbers are waiting to be harvested. Only the most necessary food for the weekly markets grows in the fields. Still, there is no sign of wistfulness and sadness with Martina and Manfred. They are proud of what they have both done all these years and look forward to the future.
In September, Manfred starts at the Dillingen Municipal Gardening. Regulated working hours from 6.45am – 4pm and on Friday only until noon. His new colleagues already have some respect when Manfred will start there. “A man with so much experience.”
Martina first devotes herself to her many interests: Fitness, cooking and blogging. Thus, the wish of their daughters comes true: Finally have time for each other.