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....