26 Nov 2014
Biologist-Mayor After his election in 1994, Mayor Michael Haeupl expanded urban-farming initiatives that took root in the 1980s. A biologist who worked at the Natural History Museum before jumping into politics, he added tracts zoned for organic farming and leased them to small businesses, stocks turning the city into one of Austria s biggest vegetable producers. While Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart remains a draw, the background sounds many hear are provided by tractors plying Danube River banks sown with wheat and rye. Baroque architecture and imperial palaces arent surrounded by moats but by vineyards yielding trading 3.2 million bottles of wine a year. Ulli Sima , the councilwoman in charge of environmental protection, oversees more than 20,000 hectares of fields and forests -- equal to about 60 of New Yorks Central Park . People thought we were crazy when we first started reclaiming land for agriculture, [read] she said. Its since become an important part of the citys character. Tree Planting Last month, for example, Sima led a project to plant 16,000 saplings on Viennas northeast edge, an area deemed by city planners to have too few trees.