European Allotment Gardens

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In Bremen, Germany Jeff went for a run outside our caravan park and ended up in a cottage community garden of sorts that went on for miles. He came back excited to tell me about it, so we took a stroll to check it out. Once I saw this place, my mind started spinning about how to do this in the States! The concept is great: affordable, sustainable and focused on growing your own food. This is Europe’s answer to providing food for those who need it, a way to escape industrialization and a way to commune with the healthy benefits of nature.

We have community gardens, but not like this.

Each lot had a cottage and a garden. The cottages are built towards the back of the lot, there were no streets – only bike and walking paths, and each lot had a large perennial garden, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Many of the houses were shut making it clear that to stay in the cottage was seasonal – a place where people could come in the summer, enjoy a yard, some outside space and garden. I assume that most of the people who own the garden/cottage plots live in the city where little green space is to be found.

These garden communities are huge and clearly able to support lots of people with a small amount of space. The lots were probably 30×50 with a tiny house weighing in at 400 square feet (at the most) set at the back. In front of the cottages was yard space for perennial gardens, fruit trees and food. Each gardener had their own ideas about design which made it a joy to visit. The place was filled with old apple trees, pear trees, raspberries, chestnuts and lots of herbs and flowers. Not only was this space beautiful and charming, but seemed so alive compared to our neighborhood streets. There was something about the smallness that said, “Community.”

Below is a picture of the larger community in Eastern Germany. The buildings are actually quite lovely and colorful – lots of pastel shades of pink, yellow, green – but the cloudy day does not show the beauty. I can imagine that people living here might enjoy the charm of the cottage and the garden in the summer.

Later: As we travelled, we have seen these community gardens all over the place. It turns out that most European countries have “Allotment Gardens” – places to grow food and enjoy nature. I might make a trip out of just these gardens!

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