Where do you celebrate the publication of a book about organic farming in Bern? On an organic farm, of course. And if you want to party in the city so no one has to drive? Well, then you need a small organic farm—or, to be precise, an organic garden, ideally one that’s right in the middle of the Old Town.
You need the Stiftsgarten!
Bern’s Münster, its great Gothic cathedral with the tallest spire in Switzerland, dominates the medieval part of the city. The cathedral was built among the mansions of the aristocrats and rich merchants who ruled the city, high above the river that encloses the Old City in a great loop. Far below the church and the elegant houses, on the banks of the Aare, is a once-poor neighborhood called the Matte, where the tanners used to make leather. There, at the foot of the high walls that support the Münster and its former graveyard, is a piece of steeply terraced land, long abandoned, that has recently become a lovingly restored garden. Today, rare species of grapes and berries grow there, tended by volunteers, together fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. This is the Stiftsgarten.
Since all the produce in the garden is organic, there is never any pesticide there, except on the evening of May 20, 2022, when Pesticide was celebrated by sixty people. We toasted each other with beer, wine, and local lemonade and shared bread and cheese, plus chutney made from the garden’s own fruit, in honor of the first book in the Polizei Bern series.
It was a wonderful evening, with lovely weather, plenty to eat and drink, and a crowd of cheerful party-goers, most of whom were eager to buy a copy of Pesticide. After my friend and fellow author Clare O’Dea presented me to the crowd and interviewed me about being an author, I settled down to greeting and signing books for lots of people.
I am so grateful to everyone who made the day special, particularly my husband Peter Stucker, who coordinated with the garden staff and made sure that everything was perfectly organized and ran (well, I can’t resist saying it) . . . like a Swiss watch.
As for me, I was jubilant–and very proud!