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  • Subject: [cg] Allotments
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 12:32:41 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, all,

Extremely briefly  since I need to finish the 160
page 25th anniversary edition double issue of ACGA's
Community Greening Review  here's a quick note on
allotments vs. community gardens.  The issue will be
out in August, I'm trying to get it to the printer
now. It's another benefit of ACGA membership - join
now to reserve your copy.

Interesting discussion on allotments, but please heed
Betsy's suggestion that we need to hear from a
European perspective. Having spent a lot of time
living abroad (and during the NY convention, hanging
out with the folks from France), I learned there are
all kinds of public access garden arrangements in
France and elsewhere in Europe - les jardins
communautaires are one part of the picture, and
sometimes organized as allotments. History is always
interesting to know, but no modern European gardens I
know of overtly continue the manipulative practices
behind the early allotments, anymore than most North
American community gardens consciously perpetuate the
'Potato Patch' or 'Liberty Garden' ideologies.

An article on English allotments by David Crouch and
one on German-Austrian 'Kleingarten' by Bruce Herrick
are in the upcoming Greening Review, along with quite
a bit of our own more recent history. I recommend
Crouch's books, including _The Allotment: Its
Landscape and Culture_ by Crouch and Colin Ward (Rowe,
1997, plus more recent printings).

Bottom line, I tend to agree with Jack Hale on this
one. Using an allotment system is simply one way to
organize a garden, and you find versions on both sides
of the Atlantic (and other places - such as in the
large market gardens in West Africa). They can be
democratically run and build community, or they can be
just the opposite. In the UK, hundreds of thousands of
people enjoy participating. In the German-speaking
countries, many are on railroad right-of-ways, not
'government land' in the way we understand the term in
the US. I, for one, feel no need to criticize them and
don't think our American practices are always
superior. The best garden solutions are local - and
the best way to learn is to be open to other ways of
doing things.

bty, on Karen's story from Winnipeg about the
bureaucrat who said 'community gardens are not about
gardening' - well, I've heard that one before,
including from some dedicated leaders of the North
American community garden movement. As a gardener, I
don't agree, but I've learned that it isn't that they
don't value gardens, necessarily; it's that they see
gardens primarily as a means to an end. Those ends
differ depending on the person and what/who they
represent. When faced with this attitude, I try to
begin a dialogue with them to see where they are
coming from.

Back to work,

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte NC

Where we've got some allotments, some not-allotments,
and some, well, who knows, but they're all community gardens.

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