Overview of the jury members of the European Award for Ecological Gardening 2023

Leitung der Jury: Karl Ploberger, AT
Author of gardening books, moderator, organic gardener

Karl Ploberger is considered as the “organic gardener of the nation“. As an autodidact, his focus has always been on organic horticulture already since his youth. Meanwhile, he has sold approximately 600,000 copies of his 24 books and annual calendars with the motto “... für intelligente Faule“ (“... for Intelligent Lazy People“).
In his hapacity as a journalist, he has also been staging radio and television programmes with the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) on the topic of gardening for 30 years (“Natur im Garten“ is broadcast every Sunday afternoon on ORF 2), attaching great importance to brief and concise explanations which are easy to understand for everyone.

He writes articles for numerous daily newspapers and is the editor of the organic gardening magazine “kraut & rüben“ and he is also active on Facebook and Instagram. Free up-to-date tips can be found on his website www.biogaertner.at as well as on his new app “Plobergers Live-Gartentipps“.

Katja Batakovic, AT
Technical director of „Natur im Garten“, garden educator

Katja Batakovic studied agricultural sciences and education science. During her studies, she gained practical experimentation experience in the field of biological pest control and worked as a teacher at a secondary education college. This was followed by several years in consulting, with a focus on human resources, project management, process support and facilitation. Katja Batakovic has been working for "Natur im Garten" Lower Austria since 2013. In her capacity as the campaign's technical director, she focuses on adult education and garden pedagogy, ecology and kitchen gardens.

In recent years, she has regularly resorted to these competences by acting as a juror on various juries. As a speaker at university courses, conferences and other educational events, she communicates her heartfelt and core topics of "Natur im Garten".


Dorothee Benkowitz, DE
Lecturer at the University of Education Karlsruhe, First Chairperson of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schulgarten e.V. (German Federal Association of School Gardens), specialist author

At the Institute of Biology and School Garden Development of the Faculty of Natural and Social Sciences at the University of Education Karlsruhe, Dorothee Benkowitz has been working as an academic councillor since 2008 and as a professor of biology and biology didactics since 2023. Every year, approximately one hundred students are trained with a special focus on gardening work in the Ecological Learning Garden, the management of which she is also in charge of. This garden serves as a site of education of the German Unesco Commission and an official actor in education for sustainable development, which plays an increasingly important role in meeting the challenges of climate change. Known also as an author of reference books, Ms. Benkowitz has been First Chairperson of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schulgarten e.V. (German Federal Association of School Gardens) since 2015 and also a member of the Executive Committee of the German Horticultural Society 1822.

András Halbritter, HU
Lecturer at Széchenyi University in Győr for school garden pedagogy

Dr András Albert Halbritter studied biology at Eötvös Loránd University, where he graduated in 2005. As Deputy Dean of Education at the Apáczai Csere János Faculty of the Western Hungarian University, he taught biology and environmental protection, primarily to teacher students. His special research areas include folk plant knowledge, soil life and the exceptional education opportunities offered by school gardens.
As a lecturer in science, health and sustainability education at the Széchenyi University, Győr, he has re-established school garden pedagogy in teacher training. Today, his work for the Hungarian Foundation for School Gardens in the development of European networks includes the support of school gardens, the training of school garden pedagogues, as well as cooperation with Natur im Garten within the framework of the Erasmus + project "School Garden goes Europe".

Constantine Innemée, GB
Direktor von “The Prince’s Foundation’s Highgrove”

Constantine Innemée, Project Director at The Prince's Foundation for more than a decade, said: “The aim of The Prince’s Foundation has always been to provide access to training and development in craft skills and other artisanal endeavours that are very often under threat due to lack of knowledge.
“By developing a new base in the south of England we will be able to offer new opportunities to keep these valuable skills thriving in a part of the country where there is a great deal of talent but where the opportunities to harness and develop them are not always readily available.
“Highgrove is synonymous with craftsmanship and aesthetic excellence. The hope is that this new base within the Estate will allow that influence to permeate every element of the programmes on offer.”

Gabriele Pircher, IT
Garden director of The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, landscape planner

Gabriele Pircher completed her studies as a landscape planner at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. Already during this time her interest in perennial plants in particular was awakened. After having spent a few years abroad, where she was mainly involved with the use of wild perennials in different areas, she finally returned to Merano – that is, to the gardens of the Trauttmansdorff Castle. In 2011 she assumed the task of planning the planting in the gardens. Since 2018, in her function as a garden director, she has been responsible for coordinating the entire garden complex as well as its planting. Near-natural plantings with perennials are her preference, with the gardens offering a variety of opportunities to put this preference into practice. Since 2018, the gardens have been continuously converted into ecological care and plant protection, thereby functioning as a showcase project in the Province of Bolzano.

Matthias Wagner, DE
Landscape architect, Head of Division of the Isle of Mainau, "Natur im Garten" certifier

In his leisure time, Matthias Wagner (a graduate engineer by education) is a passionate hobby beekeeper. In his professional life, however, after having completed his studies at the Nürtingen University of Applied Sciences, the landscape architect has rendered outstanding services to the flower island of Mainau as a garden planner for 18 years now.

Currently, he has been in charge of the garden planning department for the past eleven years, whose innovative and creative design ideas never cease to surprise the countless visitors, make them smile and reflect, and open up new perspectives for their own gardens inspired by the large and varied green spaces. As a "Natur im Garten" certifier, he is also very familiar with ecological gardening – both around Lake Constance and beyond.



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