Switzerland: Allotments. My Plot Of Land


Murat and Birsen Lavanur, from Turkey. “We have had the allotment for two years and we still have to learn a lot. Our kids can spend some time in nature and can run around freely.”

In Switzerland, amateur gardeners joined up to form associations, which led to the creation of a Swiss umbrella association in 1925. Now, 24,500 members and the equivalent of around 900 football fields belong to the Swiss Association of Allotment Gardeners.

Photographs and text, Ester Unterfinger, swissinfo.ch
Production, Felipe Schärer Diem, Sylvie Stark
Swiss Broadcasting Organization
Aug 8, 2017
(Must see. Mike)


For years, allotment gardens were considered a symbol of the Swiss bourgeoisie, but times have changed. Now, people of all nations appreciate them as place to withdraw and relax. Vito from Italy, Birsen from Turkey, Vaz from Portugal and other allotment enthusiasts talk about their individual plots of land.

Colourful national flags are flapping in the wind in one allotment at the foot of the Uetliberg near Zurich. The warm temperatures have attracted amateur gardeners who groom their plots of land and work away busily. Flowers radiate from every corner. Vegetables and salads grow like weeds. Children run around and the smells of charcoal and herbs fill the air.

Allotment gardens have not always been a place of leisure, though. In the 19th century, local farmers had to be self-sufficient just like factory workers years later. In urban areas, working families used to grow potatoes and other vegetables on small plots of land on the outskirts of the cities. Back then, it was important to offer some green areas for workers living on housing estates. Gardening was supposed to make employees work hard, to develop a sense of family and to keep them away from alcohol and politics. The German term for allotment – Schrebergarten – comes from the German paediatrician Moritz Schreber. He argued that hard physical labour would suppress lust and desire, a theory that remains quite controversial today.

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