Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Switzerland: Allotments or Schrebergarten


I have to confess that I had to edit this post based on the comment below who kindly gave me the name of these 'urban farmers' in Switzerland. I now know they are called Schrebergarten.

Because many Swiss live in flats, they somehow feel deprived from owning 'land' and therefore there is an allocation of an allotment close to where they live. Well, not everyone gets one but they are available. Apparently there is a long waiting list to get one.

In short it is about twenty square meteres of land where you can put up a 'hut', because I dont know what else to call it, and plant vegetables, decorate it with whatever odds and ends you find, go there on weekends and barebeque and generally feel like you are a land owner of sorts.

It is a little strange to be honest because Switzerland is a beautiful country and with all the opportunity in the world to be able to walk in the hills or even in the suburbs I cannot imagine why anyone would want to spend a few hours in a small allotment. Having said that though, there is something about planting and feeling close to soil and nature which is perhaps a little irrational in all of us (well most of us).

Schrebergarten are really a little bit of an eyesore. They look dirty and disorganised. Like shanty towns. I dont think that I will be getting one any time soon, but I have to admit that I thought about it on more than one occassion. Perhaps when I come to terms with the real reasons why people do it, I will be ready to myself.... It is the one place where disorder is allowed although it is actually not the case. What you are allowed to construct or use your space for is quite restrictive.

I have gone to photograph Schrebergarten a few times but never see anything I like or which interests me so at this one I stuck my camera through the fence and clicked. A few dirty looks from the suburban farmers and I decided to be on my way....

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

VERY interesting
i neveR kneW abouT thiS ...

Jessica said...

Ps. I love you photos. I will continue my 'duty' :) to blog about Zurich and you continue posting such fabulous photo blog entries.

Oh and PPS. I have an allotment this Spring with my name on it. I just have not blogged about it yet. Stay tuned. We will see what it is like to garden with the Swiss. :)

PPPPPPS. :) Thanks for commenting on my blog. :)

Shaun said...

Gardening with the Swiss might be pretty interesting and I believe there will be lots to post about there... there is a whole lot of opportunity for material...

Amanda said...

Funny that you called them shanty towns because the first time I saw some "huts" a couple of years ago outside of Munich, I thought they were people's homes! I told my husband, "I never expected people to live like this in Bavaria." Haha.

Shaun said...

Thank you for commenting. I hate that you did on the worst picture I have posted in my opinion... but... thank you, and I agree wholeheartedly!

Anonymous said...

They are called Schrebergarten and started (Wikipedia claims) around 1800 or 1860 (there are 2 seemingly branches) in Germany. One of the main reasons was to give poor people the possibility to get vegetables in a time without supermarkets. Today they are slightly out-of-date, but since owning land in Switzerland is almost impossible, people who want gardens use them. They are often used for Barbecue too, since a lot of people are not allowed to use a grill anywhere near their apartment. They often look like shanty towns, because they use "unattractive" spaces, near trains, train stations, between motorways, where nobody wants to live. Some have strict regulations, what you can build. But in ordered and regulated Switzerland people should have some place where the neatening obsession has to stay out and some chaos is allowed.

Shaun said...

Thank you.... they are now lodged in between flats and I suppose they are possibly more relevant... due to even less space...