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community gardens by other names


Gottlieb Moritz Schreber was a pediatrician living in Leipzig, Germany in
the middle of the 19th century. He found that the urban conditions in which
children grew up at that time were detrimental to their health, one of the
reasons being lack of play provisons. You will be surprised to hear, that
what he demanded as early as 1861, was not the provision of gardens or food
for the poor, but rather play areas for children.

Garden areas were later added to these play grounds for "educational
reasons" by Schreber’s son in law who happened to be a teacher. Only with
the occurance of economic crises especially during war times were these
gardens used mainly for food production. Children never regained their
central position in these gardens even after food supply to the poor had
ceased to be a major problem. Until today Schreber gardens serve more the
esthetic demands and recreational purposes of adults rather than children.
Play areas for children on the other hand gradually mutated to mere exercise
constructions designed again to satisfy the taste of adults rather than the
developmental needs and play wishes of children.

Apart from socalled Schreber gardens allotment gardens in Germany are simply
called "Kleingärten" (small gardens). Check: www.kleingarten-bund.de

Opposed to the french jardain familiaux and the american community gardens
Schrebergärten and Kleingärten are very much hierarchically organized and
often dominated by small-time regulations and political decision makers
rather than think global-act local-ideas and grass roots activists. They
very often do not follow ecological design nor organic farming principles.
I'd be careful therefore to use the term Schrebergarten synonimously for
community garden - it simply reflects a different reality.

Projects more close to the community gardens both in social as well as
ecological terms are children , youth and community farms which are very
often run by community activist groups (and sometimes they get bulldozed
too...) Check www.bdja.org for further information on these



Oliver Ginsberg
Federation of adventure playgrounds and children's farms in Berlin


PS.: Edith-Claude Bouquin from the fédération nationale des jardins
familiaux can give you more background information on different kinds of
gardens in France: jardinfa@club-internet.fr

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