Gardens in Germany: Schrebergärten Exhibition
Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on June 7th, 2010
When travelling through Germany by train, they can be seen everywhere in the vicinity of large cities: ‘Schrebergärten’, groups of small fenced allotment gardens, all in perfect alignment to each other. The first allotment gardens in Germany, the ‘Schrebergärten’ originated in Leipzig. They were established as school gardens by Dr. Karl Gsell, who named them after his physician father in law, however it was Ernst Innocent Hauschild, a school principal, whose interest led to the founding of the first Schrebergarten Association in 1864.
These small recreational islands were intended to provide better nutrition, contact with nature and fresh air – a real benefit for the people, especially the city children of the industrial era. Garden allotments could alleviate the longing for life in the country and the freedom of working, relaxing and playing outdoors. And for people living in cities they played an important role in the growing of food supplies during times of crisis, war and post-war famine.
And what role does the Schrebergarten have today? Presently there are more than one million small gardens in Germany, located mainly in its cities. Altogether they cover an area of more than 46,000 hectares. In most of the allotment gardens there is now talk of a generational change. Indeed, more and more young families are coming in to establish their own recreational space with spade and watering can. Once more there is a trend towards ‘growing-your-own’ because homegrown produce tastes better. At the same time, the children are brought closer to nature. Fruit, vegetables and flowers from one’s own garden bed, the bird in the nesting box, chats over the garden fence – all these things are part of everyday life for allotment gardeners in Germany.
It is hardly surprising then that some Fine Arts students in Leipzig, where the foundations of the Schrebergarten movement were laid, should devote two semesters to an artistic project on the theme ‘Gardens in Germany. The Schrebergarten culture’. An exhibition of their selected artworks, from photos, to paintings and book illustrations to short films – provides insight into this aspect of everyday German culture from a special creative perspective. In addition, these items and the accompanying texts were chosen and presented under methodical aspects to further the learning and maintenance of the German language for different age groups.
Welcome to the Schrebergarten: Exhibition
18 May – 30 September 2010
Goethe-Institut Australien, 448 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Information: +61 3 9864 8915