Allotment gardens

All along train tracks in Germany and England (and probably other countries in Europe) are these “allotment gardens,” I believe started during WWII, so people from cities could take trains out to the country and spend weekends growing fruit and vegetables. Still going strong, another instance of European moxie. There isn’t as good an example as many others, with cute little weekend shacks, but they are hard to shoot from a speeding train.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

6 Responses to Allotment gardens

  1. Hello LLoyd, you've got the sharp and swift glance ! Allotment gardens are a beautiful but unknown heritage in european countries (England, Germany,Belgium…) The first ''workers'gardens'' appeared in Germany at the end of Nineteenth century and belonged to the factories, they were sold or rent to workers with the intention of giving them better food. It was also a social and paternalistic plan : encouraging workers to rest with their family (instead of drinking in the cafés !) and to breath healthy air outside their slums.
    In France, in years 1940-1950, the country was suffering from famine and people began to cultivate their tiny plots by thousands. For a long time, this custom has been a little despised – that's the reason why these gardens are situated on neglected plots of land near industrial estates or expressways or railroads (people couldn't afford a train ticket, they went cycling to their tiny green paradise).
    Now this green, social movement knows renewed success, either in big cities than in small country towns : family gardens, shared gardens, integration gardens… organic or not. Not far from my home, some people cultivate flowers and vegetables on the fallow site of a disused factory and it's a very pleasant way of meeting new friends and sharing organic gardening's know-how (I send you some pictures).
    The site gathers also artists, architects, students from the national school for landscape gardeners, cows and bees… They test how nature and biodiversity can grow again in an industrial site. Let the wild seeds do the job all by theirselves (vegetal embroidery on concrete, and so on). It's a kind of tribute to working-class culture of self-sufficient way of life and a great ecological experiment. Quite exciting !
    Have a good stay !

  2. As the windbags start huffing and puffing on their way to an election year (sigh) I find myself listening to market reports and not hearing much good news for us in the U.S. I go around saying that we are going to find ourselves ultimately following the "European Model" and not in a good way. I believe there are times ahead that may not be pretty.

    Yet why? Solutions and examples like you are observing on your Germany Adventure are right there in front of us. Keep it up, Lloyd!

    It will be grassroots endeavors that save the day.

  3. As an urban apartment dweller with NO land, I often look enviously at little patches of land around the Port of Oakland or along the BART tracks… I've often thought of just starting a garden, but the problem is one of water: it's so dry in California during the growing season that without a source of water, your crop will wither away. Any ideas on this? Install a storage tank? I've had my eyes on a miserable patch of dirt near the West Oakland BART station for some time… Andy

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