New Alternatives To Traditional German Garden Allotments
It’s been a beautiful summer in Germany, and I have certainly enjoyed the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. The farmer’s markets are full, as are the pantries of those lucky enough to have small garden plots.
Getting a small garden plot in Germany can be a bit of an adventure for those who don’t live in the countryside. Urban dwellers can try and join a Kleingartenverein, the Small Garden Associations which provide land for gardens. However, these well-established systems have long waiting lists and holdings are often kept by members for decades.
This doesn’t mean that German city dwellers have stopped looking for fresh greens and organic gardening options. Quite the contrary! Into this hungry market has stepped Meine Ernte (site in German), a company offering rental gardens for those who want to try their hand at having a garden.
Meine Ernte, which means “My Harvest,” isn’t a traditional garden co-op. Instead, they cater specifically to would-be organic farmers without a lot of time or even gardening experience.
The company has set up cooperative agreements with organic farmers near some of Germany’s largest cities, including Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Bonn, and Dortmund. The farmers provide swathes of land, which are planted by professional gardeners at the beginning of the season. A small bit of land is left for customized plantings, but the rest has a mix of 20 popular edible plants.
Renters have their choice of section size. Small gardens are for 1 – 2 people, standard gardens cater to 3 – 4, and large gardens cater to large families and groups. Prices range from €149 to €433 per season, with renewable subscriptions and the option to change as your needs change. Meine Ernte estimates that even small sections produce at least €600 of produce per season.
Each of the locations has a professional gardener on site to offer consultations and aid. Renters should plan to spend 1 – 2 hours a week tending to their garden allotment, which does make it rather easy to have a summer hobby garden.
Meine Ernte plans to expand to new cities in 2011 — so plan ahead for your garden share. Those Meine Ernte doesn’t have waiting lists like the Kleingartenverein, there is still just a limited amount of space available for those who want to try their hand at gardening in Germany.
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