At least a large part of it, and from my own allotment garden! It is different whether I buy a kilo of tomatoes in the supermarket or walk through the garden and enjoy the ripening fruit. What else? The seeds come from the delicious tomato I was given last year by the gardener next door, an old tomato variety from the region. The summer was dry and hot, and every few days I had to water the tomatoes thoroughly. I wonder if these water-intensive vegetable plants will be cultivated here in the long term as water becomes increasingly scarce. I wonder what the gardening advisor at the association has to say about this?
A story that could be continued endlessly and is reflected in most of the plants in the garden. It is clear from this that the harvest we reap is far greater than a kilo of tomatoes and contains a wealth of experience and lifelong learning. Moreover, growing one's own horticultural produce brings a rich harvest not only on an individual level. The 44,000 hectares of allotment gardens organised through the BDG and more than 900,000 allotment gardeners and their families have an impact far beyond the personal level and also have a huge potential for society as a whole.
For example, with regard to the supply of healthy food, especially when one considers that in Germany only 1% of the professionally used agricultural area is used for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, which corresponds to a self-sufficiency rate of 35.7%. Eating fruit from an allotment garden close to home also protects the climate: instead of chemical additives, long transport routes and heated greenhouses, allotment gardens contain a large number of beneficial organisms, compost and recycled materials. Organic tomatoes produced in this way consume only 35 g CO2 per kilogram instead of 9.2 kg CO2 in heated greenhouses. Let's also consider that ecologically managed allotment gardens make the whole city more resilient to the crises of the time, as a rainwater reservoir, climate oasis and recreational. or living space! Already in 2018, a large majority of allotment garden organisations advocated a nature-oriented design of allotment garden sites. Municipalities see a further ecological upgrading of the sites as a central task. Many good examples throughout the country show that allotment gardens will continue to provide an abundant harvest, individually and for society as a whole. Every contribution counts.
Eva Foos, BDG
Authors: U. Hartleb, BDG (picture 1), T. Wagner (picture 2)
De Tuinpark Tuinwijck (Gardenpark Tuinwijck) from Amsterdam takes all members on board to garden in a nature-friendly way.
Tuinpark Tuinwijck is located on the north side of Amsterdam and, located along the Ring A10, forms a transition zone between the urban buildings and the green of the landscape around the city. The green, agricultural and ecological landscape, which is characterized by ditches and meadows with the associated flora and fauna, is in a sense continued in the design of the garden park. The park has 229 gardens that are available and affordable for all residents of Amsterdam. The gardeners in the park are a reflection of the inhabitants of the city.
Tuinpark Tuinwijck was founded in 1910 as the first Amsterdam allotment complex. Due to the growth of the city, the gardens had to be moved several times, but since 1974 the gardeners in Amsterdam Noord have been given a permanent place. The design of the park was unique for that time; it is the first allotment park that has been laid out entirely in a park form with a lot of public greenery that not only gardeners but everyone can enjoy.
The public green space is managed by a special committee and is based on natural gardening. Because of the diverse nature of all public greenery, there is a lot of room for experiencing and the creation of diverse “green ecological zones". Natural-friendly management, and maintenance and design is always the aim and objective. Tuinwijck wants to create an oasis in the city for flora and fauna. But also a place for nature and environmental education for the gardeners, children and local residents. They are well on their way: they have now reached the highest category of the National Quality Mark of Natural Gardening.
A FEW EXAMPLES
To give an idea of how they shape natural gardening in the maintenance of public greenery, here below are a few examples.
1. Botanical garden
In this place only native plant species grow that thrive on the peat soil of the park. A stacking wall surrounds the whole thing. Lizards and special fern species have already been spotted here.
2. Bird Island
This island with a natural ruggedness is not accessible. Due to the minimal disturbance, this is a resting place for fauna. A beekeeper has put his hives here. The bee colonies ensure pollination of the fruit trees in the park.
3. Baskets and bird boxes, natural shelters
At the park there is a lot of attention for biodiversity and the lure of protected animal species. Everywhere in the park you will find bird boxes (also for owls), bat boxes and breeding baskets. Also a toad heap and an insect hotel can be found.
4. Borders and hedges, paths
In the public greenery along the paths there are many bee and butterfly plants, partly native. It is a colorful blooming ribbon through the park with a different expression in each season.
Under the bushes in the general parts, the herb vegetation is basically left alone. In many places, different cover crops grow together, which contributes to biodiversity. There is an experiment to create more green paths. The first results are positive. They want to continue with this in the coming years.
5. Water and ditches
Many gardens are adjacent to a ditch. Because of the soft peat soil, the shores are shod here but still with plenty of room for different shore plants. Along the public greenery, many shores have been kept low so that there is a semi wet biotope with marsh plants, aquatic insects and amphibians. This helps to get good water quality.
In the almost fifty years that this park has existed, the trees have been given the opportunity to reach full maturity. The logging policy is careful and restrained. They reserve some dead trees for the woodpecker.
The large playing field is not only for the children but is also a place where all kinds of joint activities take place. Through extensive mowing management and natural play facilities, it forms a unity with the adjacent botanical garden.
8. Food forest
On the edge of the park Tuinwijck wants to plant a food forest with trees and shrubs that provide all kinds of edibles for everyone. They give small, yet to be grown trees a place in the ’nursery'.
BUT TUINWIJCK DOES MORE
In their greenhouse, cultivated and wild plants are grown and sold for little money. In addition, it is a central place where people can go with questions.
They have a well-stocked shop with exclusively organic seeds and a wide range of environmentally friendly products.
Pruned wood is collected at a central location and then shredded and sold in the store. Composting on your own garden is encouraged. Just like the use of ditch and rainwater.
Through the club magazine a lot of information is given and knowledge is shared, for example: the bad effects of pesticides, counts of bees and butterflies, info about permaculture and other informative lectures. In the magazine they also write about the progress of the construction of their "social house" which when finished will provide a house and garden on the park, for people from the city whom are struggling physically or mentally, to come back to themselves.
Last but not least. Their park is not only a place for flora and fauna but also for people. Tuinwijck also feels responsible for this. After all, it is a park for all people of Amsterdam who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
De Tuinpark Tuinwijck received the International Federation’s diploma for ecological gardening.
Creating an arboretum, a unique initiative in the North of Sweden
In Dalkarlsliden allotment association they have three large grass covered areas on their leased land. The areas used to be cut, like lawns, several times a year, and in a few years back one member suggested that they ought to create a more living environment for insects and bird on one of the lawns (5000 m2).
In the end, they decided they wanted to create an arboretum on this lawn. A garden designer made a plan and suggested suitable trees and shrubs. This is in the north of Sweden, so the trees and shrubs need to survive the winters there.
To finance the project they also applied and were granted a loan for 10 000 euro in 2020 from the Allotment Federation’s” Loan Fund”, from where member associations can apply for loans to finance investments for the common good for the association, such as storage sheds, meeting house, sanitary facilities, fences etc.
In 2021 the arboretum was planted by the members, with a total of 34 trees and 16 shrubs of 30 different varieties. It was all inaugurated on Aug 28th, the Allotment Garden Day (as proclaimed by the Swedish Allotment Federation). Ulrica Otterling, Secretary General, was there and helped plant the final tree. This also became a wonderful finale of the Swedish Federation’s 100th Anniversary and the Federation’s tree planting campaign connected to the jubilee.
The allotment site Dalkarlsliden received the International Federation’s diploma for innovative projects.
This year's study meeting of the Fédération Internationale took place in Stockholm from 17th to 20th August 2022.
After a break of two years, representatives of 11 national allotment federations were finally able to exchange their experiences and opinions in person on the topics of "lobbying" and "cooperation with other organisations".
The intensive, joint exchange with like-minded people brought new ideas and broadened perspectives for many.
Apart from the inspiring exchange of ideas, the opportunity could also be used to visit allotment garden sites in Stockholm. In the course of these visits the diplomas of the Fédération Internationale could also be handed over.
Nature friendly Gardening: to continue developing and to be a motivation for all is a conditio sine qua non
QUALITY MARK WITH 4 DOTS
Only a small group of allotment associations in the Netherlands can proudly say that they may carry the 'National Quality Mark for Natural Gardening’. This quality mark comes with the maximum of 4 attainable dots. Since 2021, the amateur allotment association 'ATV De Uithof' in The Hague is proud to be one of these associations!
FREE AND CREATIVE THINKING
Since 2010, the entire association is fully committed to the principle of 'Natural gardening’. This has been implemented throughout the entire park. Their main focus is to enthuse circular gardening based on the concept of free and creative thinking. The fact that their association consists of a mix of horticulturists in terms of experience and background is a major advantage in their goal to transfer both knowledge and motivation.
NATURE LEARNING PATH
The method that they have chosen to do this, is a 'Nature-Learning path'. This path winds through the park like an inviting educational artery directly from the main entrance across the entire park. Visitors can find inspiration and gardeners can learn from each other. Directing posts, information boards, workshops and walking tours provide great support for everyone that would have this desire. From the main paths they build a proverbial bridge to the individual gardens.
The path consists of a herb garden, butterfly garden, toad pool and a food & thickets forest. They also pay a lot of attention to the housing of (wild) bees, hedgehogs, ducks and bats.
Pruning and maintenance of the waterfront and a compost heap are completely devoted to 'Natural gardening', as is their shop. They give space to a good and conscious ecological balance in various ways.
Already more than fifty percent of the 213 gardens are open to 'Natural gardening'! Of course ATV De Uithof will continue to develop itself and be an incentive for many. They take their role and responsibility as quality mark bearing association extremely serious as they take a lot of pride from it.
ATV De Uithof received the International Fedration’s diploma for ecological gardening.