The way to the "green new deal"
It is in fact a bitter irony – on one hand gardening on a plot is very much in vogue. On the other hand rising real estate prices and the continued influx into the cities mean that allotment sites are increasingly threatened of being overbuilt. The allotment gardeners seem to be helpless compared to the interest in profits of the real estate industry. What the allotment gardeners can do in order to react to that threat was explained by the sociologist Dr. Fritz Reusswig from the Potsdam institute for climate impact research during a meeting of various regional federations in Bremen.
Just how important the topic is was made clear by Reusswig right from the beginning: Since 2011 the number of allotment gardens has been dropping continuously and only 18% of all the sites are permanently protected by development plans. Especially in cities with increasing densification, the sites are threatened by overbuilding – according to the first results of the study, "allotments in transition" by the federal institute for building, urban and space planning (BBSR).
In this context it has to be mentioned that allotment gardening is changing: organic gardening is gaining in importance (according to the study 85% of all sites are laid out in a nature friendly way), there are increasingly new garden forms (community gardens) and new groups asking for allotments, such as families with children (85%), couples after the family phase (42%) and families with migration background (72%), said Reusswig.
How to act
Especially in the metropolitan areas the demand for allotments is increasing. In order to meet this demand and to react to the competition for available areas, the practical approaches used up to now are mainly the re-densification in the stock (the division of gardens), the allocation of unsaved grounds or the creation of other gardening forms on allotment sites and common use.
However, these approaches are not transferable to all allotment sites. It is, therefore, important to be actively involved in urban planning. In the medium term, allotment gardeners have to promote the fact that the negative ecological consequences of a building development have to be taken into account in the city budget so that in the end there will be no "black", but a "green zero".
Decisive for reaching this aim is that the federations cooperate in scientific studies. The sociologist also recommends to form alliances, especially with "urban gardening", projects that are an adequate offer for this.
Reusswig proposes at the end a "green new deal". The allotment gardeners will get a permanent protection of their sites and they will assume social and ecological services.
With regard to the eco-system services of the allotment gardens, climate change is an opportunity for the allotment gardeners. Climate change will increase the importance of greenery in the city. This is not only a question of ecological, but also of social justice, since it is precisely the socially weaker people who have the least access to urban greenery and its relief functions. And so the threat could become a path to salvation. Consequently, the allotment gardeners are not helpless – but up to a "green new deal" it is still a long way, which they have to approach in the most active way possible.
This is so for all the allotment gardeners in Germany and all over Europe
Verlag W. Wächter
Adapted and completed by M. WEIRICH, Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux
On April 7th, 2019 320 delegates and associative representatives met in Roodt-Syre for their annual congress.
Romain Schneider, minister for agriculture, Carole Dieschbourg, minister for environmental protection as well as many guests and representatives from administration departments and partner organisations, as well as Malou Weirich, secretary general of the International Office du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux, were present.
After the amendment of the statutes last year, President Martine Mergen informed that they will now deal with the problematic concerning the relationship between the associations and their members on one hand and the relations between the associations and the authorities on the other hand. This is a topic also currently dealt with on international level. She additionally informed on the federation's plans to build a new office building with lecture/education rooms and a surrounding garden area. Hopefully the building can be inaugurated at the occasion of the LUGA2023 (Luxembourgish horticultural exhibition)
The congress lecture dealt with the subject: "Biodiversity in our gardens – a Luxembourgish study". This study joins similar studies already made in Austria and Germany.
The Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux and the affiliated federations call upon all allotment gardeners to take part in the Week without pesticides organised from 20th till 30th March 2019.
The consequences of chemical control in agriculture and in our gardens are well-known to us; this via countless campaigns, news articles, etc. The period of effectiveness of the chemical products is limited and thus they have to be reused yearly and sometimes several times a year. These products offer no durable solution for future agricultural or gardening models.
The yearly treatments and curative actions to kill all plagues and diseases result in possible resistance. This can be compared to the resistance of bacteria in medicine, which have nearly become indestructible due to a random use of antibiotics.
The Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux and its members wish to promote alternatives during the week without pesticides 2019. This week is symbolic and is an ideal moment to start changing our habits. The alternatives might not always give the wished for results in the first year, but in the long run they will. Also less perfect looking fruit and vegetables are healthy, because they have been produced in a sustainable way.
Gardeners have to think with/like nature. One of the ground rules is 'survival of the fittest'.
Choose resistant plants which have a natural resistance against diseases, e.g. Sarpo Mira potato that is resistant against the potato pest.
Often the wild or older races are interesting as throughout the years they have built up their resistance by natural selection. They are often smaller and less pretty, but keep longer and have a better taste compared to the F1-hybrids from the store. Moreover, from these old and wild races you can harvest the seeds for next year, something which is impossible with the F1-hybrids.
Appeal to the allotment gardeners and gardeners
Gather friends and use them! Do so literally by organizing a 'crowd weeding' where you remove the weeds in a group. Another option is to use insects to control the population of other insects and plagues. Organise your garden to welcome them, offer shelter, food abundance, etc.
We all know the ladybird, but have you heard of these useful garden friends:
- linopodes mite (vs. spider mite and thrips)
- nematodes (vs. snails and caterpillar)
- ichneumon-fly (vs. aphids)
- lacewing (vs. whitefly) ?
If you don't know them yet, be sure to check them out!
Get your hands dirty.
If you don't like this passive approach and you are a hands-on kind of person, there are mechanical techniques that can be used:
- manual weeding
- manually picking bugs (snails)
- traps (e.g. Pheromone traps for moths or beer traps for snails)
Our last advice, but as a gardener we advise you to start with this one, have a good garden plan!
Crop rotation in the vegetable garden is a start. Take soil samples every three years and fertilise as advised. These steps will give you a solid base and healthy plants, and healthy plants are less likely to get ill.
Appeal to the federations
The Dutch, Flemish and Swedish federations have already initiated special projects and created a quality mark for gardening without pesticides.
Please check if similar activities can also be launched by your federation.
Help your associations and their members to change to another way of gardening and maintaining their garden sites.
The national delegates met in Luxembourg on March 8th and 9th, 2019 for their annual statutory general assembly.
Before the meeting chairman Wilhelm Wohatschek and general secretary Malou Weirich had a meeting with Romain Schneider, minister for Agriculture. During this meeting they could present the Office’s new strategies to the Minister.
He assured them that he will both morally and financially support the publishing of the brochure “The soil is living” in several languages.
The executive board and the national delegates thank the minister very heartily for his recognition and support.
In addition to the statutory missions, the conclusions from the study session in Kortrijk were drawn. The cornerstones for a greater internal and external efficiency of our work were further discussed.
The Office homepage should present examples of good practice and be developed to become a platform to present knowledge and expertise. To this effect it was decided to acquire an expertise in the domains as for example: climate, water, public space, thanks to a cooperation between two or more federations.
The Dutch federation presented its activities, successes, problems as well as its innovative strategy for the future in a very interesting lecture. In the future they will, in addition to their current missions, focus especially on amateur gardeners who are not members of the federation.
All the other federations informed on their activities. This exchange brought interesting insights and gave – according to what was needed – stimulations for national activities.
The next issues of the Hyphen will deal for example with the topics: Environment justice, diversity of allotments, pilot projects of the federations.
The Office and the affiliated federations will also take part in the week without pesticides in 2019 and publish a memorandum on the Office homepage, the national homepages as well as in the national allotment magazines.
The delegates will meet again during their study session in Graz (Austria) on coming 21st August.
The next statutory general assembly will take place in Luxembourg on March 6th and 7th, 2020.
More than 100 years ago the first allotment garden colony was founded in Vienna. Today there are around 36,000 allotment garden plots, which are larger than the 7 smallest districts of Vienna combined. With the allotment garden association 'Zukunft auf der Schmelz', Vienna even has the largest allotment garden complex in Europe in a densely built-up area. While these gardens were once important for food production, today they are primarily small leisure oases with great significance for the climate, biodiversity and well-being of all Viennese people.
As said, allotments have been part of Vienna for over 100 years. So, it is time to present these refuges in the middle of the big city as they really are. KleingartenTV has created a documentary film for the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) showing what makes Vienna's allotments so special. From the beginning to the present day.
The historian and author Peter Autengruber knows the stories of Vienna's allotments like no other and so he knows the interesting stories from the history of allotments in Vienna. Never-before-seen film footage from the archives of the central federation bring history to life and offer worth seeing insights into a time long past.
A time that Elisabeth Meindl experienced herself. She lived in an allotment garden in Vienna for almost 94 years and was kind enough to share her childhood and youth memories with the viewers of the documentary. Stories about the story of a contemporary witness.
Wilhelm Wohatschek, the president of the Central Federation, has dedicated his life to allotment gardening in Austria and we will present the achievements of the Central Federation for the existence and continuation of these small gardens to a large audience in this 25-minute documentary.
But it is not only the allotment gardens that make Vienna something special. It is above all the allotment gardeners. Using Helga Lang and the Floridsdorf women's group as examples, we show how important these people are for society and what great things can be made of small things.
The biodiversity study conducted by university lecturer Gerhard Bedlan of AGES (agency for health and food security) on behalf of the Central Federation shows how important allotment gardens are for life in the big city. The results are fascinating.
Of course, KleingartenTV also makes a foray through the shelters, the harvest fields and orchards and through the allotment gardens themselves in the documentary for the ORF.
The broadcasting of this documentary took place on Saturday 9th March 2019