Allotment Culture in Germany - The "Schrebergarten"Enlarge image (© www.picture-alliance.com)
As spring arrives, Germany's allotment garden ("Schrebergarten") owners suddenly have lots to do. They become busy putting out their garden gnomes, clearing away old leaves, trimming trees and planting new flowers, fruits and vegetables. There are more than one million garden plots in Germany, but where does the German passion for allotment gardens come from?
In the beginning of the 19th century, German doctor Moritz Schreber (1801-1961) from Leipzig had the idea to create garden plots (in German: "Schrebergarten") for poorer people in big cities. They were designed to offer enough space for children to play and to allow adults to cultivate fruits and vegetables for their own consumption. As Schreber was a doctor, he mainly had the health of the people in mind while developing this concept. The first allotment garden was inaugurated after Schreber's death in Leipzig in 1865 and was named "Schrebergarten" after him to honor his contribution.
Many people who owned a garden plot during World War II were lucky: If they lost their home in town due to the bombardments, they could take refuge in their allotment outside the city. There, people settled in small sheds which usually served as storage for garden utensils. In addition, they could supply themselves with fresh produce cultivated on site.
In the course of time, garden plots were proscribed as square and bourgeois, with accurately cut hedges and prudish well-groomed flower beds and lawns. People cultivating the allotments were often stereotyped as being between the age of 60 and 70, but this reputation has changed. More and more young families rent or own parcels of land. Enlarge image (© colourbox.com)
Nowadays, it is even considered sophisticated if young parents cultivate organic food for the family on their own. Even teenagers and students are increasingly liking the formerly 'uncool' garden plots: Since the gardens are often situated in an accessible distance from city, it's quite popular to arrange barbecue or paddling pool parties there during the summer.