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A contribution to biodiversity

August 28th 2021: inauguration of a new arboretum in Skellefteå, Sweden

“This weekend I spent an absolutely wonderful day at the association “Dalkarlsliden” in Skellefteå. We were there celebrating that the union, “Koloniträdgårdsförbundet” turned 100 years old. The highlight of the day was the inauguration of their new arboretum, where I was involved in planting a tree. A previously empty lawn has been given 70 new trees and bushes by more than 30 different varieties. Talk about long-term investment in biodiversity! The sun was shining, all the gardens looked fantastic and the area was filled with happy and nice visitors” says Ulrica Otterling, director of the Swedish allotment federation.

 

This inauguration is part of our campaign: "Allotment loves trees"

During our jubilee year all our 229 associations have been involved in planting thousands of new fruit trees and berry bushes all over Sweden. We wanted to show how many positive contributions allotment areas make, not only for the colonists but for the whole society. The areas have a great biodiversity and it is highlighted through the campaign, where over 2000 new fruit trees and berry bushes have now been planted.

Planting trees is the best thing you can do for biodiversity and is one of the global environ

New award celebrates wildlife-friendly allotments in Devon

Devon Wildlife Trust (1) media release

Devon Wildlife Trust has revealed their new Wildlife Awareness Allotment Award to celebrate allotment gardeners making space for wildlife.

The most recent State of Nature (2) report showed almost half of UK wildlife is in long term decline and 15% of species are at risk of extinction. Loss of habitats and overuse of pesticides are two major reasons for these declines, particularly in our vital insect populations.

The patchwork of green spaces across our towns and cities are hugely important for wildlife and can help communities tackle the biodiversity and climate crises. Domestic gardens are often celebrated as potential wildlife havens and there is a growing movement to make space for nature elsewhere, from roadside verges to green roofs. Allotments are part of this network of valuable green spaces, providing food, water and shelter for animals, as well as producing a colourful spread of local produce.

Devon Wildlife Trust and the South West Branch of the National Allotment Association have teamed up to champion allotments as budding spaces for wildlife, by launching the Wildlife Awareness Allotment Award! The award, hosted on the Devon Wildlife Trust website, aims to inspire and encourage allotment gardeners to make space so that wildlife can thrive.

Katie Wilkinson, Devon Wildlife Trust Wilder Communities Team Lead says
”This award is a fantastic opportunity for people to be recognised for their efforts in creating wildlife friendly allotments. Greenspaces such as allotments are vital stepping stones – if every gardener did a few things for wildlife on their patch, such as going chemical free, it would make a huge difference to local wildlife’’.

Tim Callard, Chairman of the South West Branch of the National Allotment Society (3):
“It is my hope that other communities and groups are inspired by this award and that it is adopted on a national scale, linking up allotments into a wider network. I see the award as a way of promoting allotments as safe havens for our wildlife and allotment gardeners as an ever-growing section of society across the UK who really care about wildlife”.

Devon Wildlife Trust has already seen fantastic examples of allotments hosting a range of wildlife, including those nurtured by staff within the charity. Russell Luscombe, one of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Fundraising Officers, has planted wildflower borders which have burst with colour this summer, attracting insects and birds to his allotment in Exeter.

This award also highlights The Wildlife Trust’s Action for Insects campaign, a nationwide effort to reverse the massive insect declines by encouraging people to create more nature-rich places and make cities, towns and parishes pesticide-free.

The allotment award is open to anyone with an allotment in Devon and provides a range of ideas and resources for helping wildlife. To find out more, go to the Devon Wildlife Trust website: https://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/wildlife-awareness-allotment-award

 

Ends

(1) Devon Wildlife Trust is the county’s leading environmental charity, with more than 35,000 members. The charity manages 52 nature reserves and six Valley Parks across Devon, including a range of beautiful landscapes such as woodlands, meadows, wetlands and heaths as well as caring for the marine environment around our coasts. Devon Wildlife Trust relies on charitable donations, grants and the generous support of its members and the general public to raise more than £ 4 million every year. Money raised is spent maintaining our work for wildlife conservation and education in Devon, for present and future generations.
More at www.devonwildlifetrust.org

(2) https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

(3) National Allotment Society is the leading national organisation upholding the interests and rights of the allotment community across the UK. The society works with government at national and local levels, other organisations and landlords to provide, promote and preserve allotments for all.
more at natsoc@nsalg.org.uk

The BDG Science Award 2023

Scientific work from other member federations of the International Federation can receive an award too

31st March, 2023 still seems a long way away. Yet, it is never too early to promote allotment gardening as a research topic to scientists around you!

Every four years, the BDG awards scientific studies dedicated to the ecological, urban planning and social importance of allotment gardens in shaping the future of cities and towns.

The disciplines that the BDG would like to address are broad and include, for example, urban, regional and landscape planning, horticultural sciences, climatic geography, landscape ecology, nature and environmental protection, as well as health and nutrition.

Eligible for submission are seminar papers, bachelor's and master's theses and dissertations, as well as outstanding scientific articles and reports on research projects. The BDG explicitly welcomes contributions in English!

The papers for the current competition must have been published between 2019 to 2023. A total of 5000 € in award money is available for the papers.

Draw attention to the BDG Science Award! Help to popularise exemplary approaches of allotment gardening, to sensitise for the potential of our allotment gardens and to get new impulses for our common tasks!

More information at:
https:/tinyurl.com/bdg-academicaward
https://tinyurl.com/BDG-Wissenschaftspreis

PS: In April 2019 the study of the AGES team in Austria (österreichische Agentur für Gesundheit und Ernährungssicherung – Austrian Agency for Health and Food Security) under the leadership of Dipl. Ing Anna Moyses was awarded the second prize for the subject: “Biodiversity in the allotment gardens in Vienna.

Allotment gardens, a real biological diversity

In 2019 the scientific commission of the French allotment federation (FNJFC) started a national enquiry among its member gardeners

Which biodiversity can be found on allotment? Which are its characteristics? And how much are the gardeners concerned about this question?

The conclusion from this survey is that:

The surveyed biodiversity on these 187 plots is not surprising in terms of the nature of the plants found, since they are essentially cultivated or spontaneous plants that are common in disturbed urban environments. On the other hand, the found agronomic diversity is extraordinary in terms of the number of the different cultivated plants (nearly 1000 including 350 different species or types) and the number of varieties within certain species. On every plot, there are on average 34 cultivated plants including 19 vegetables. This cultivated diversity on a plot is comparable and even much greater for the most daring gardeners, with what one can find on the productive market gardening micro-farms studied in Kevin Morel’s thesis. Indeed, he describes systems of less than 1,5 ha per market gardener with more types of vegetables and herbs, which is already more diversified than what is conventionally considered reasonable in market gardening.

The gardeners’ knowledge about spontaneous flora is very heterogeneous. It ranges from those who fight weeds to those who have counted less than 178 species on their site.

As far as fauna is concerned, only the species that cause problems (cabbage, worms, bugs, aphids, etc.) or the most charismatic animals (fox, hedgehog, hare, lizard, etc.) are mentioned.

This study enabled us to confirm that certain sustainable practices are well established (composting, water collection, mulching) and that certain actions for biodiversity are increasing in frequency (nesting boxes, insect hotels). However, due to a lack of time and data, we were not able to investigate the potential role of allotments as agronomic conservatory, the presence of fallow meadows and their management, the presence of beehives both from the point of view of management and the preservation of wild pollinators.

The meetings with the various gardeners made it possible to characterise practices that are increasingly virtuous for soil biodiversity and spontaneous flora. They also highlighted the gardeners’ desire to learn more about this subject (need for training), in front of which they often feel helpless, even if they generally have a positive but nevertheless relatively abstract image on it.

More generally, this work supports already published studies concerning the biodiversity in the community and family gardens (Joimel, 2015 ; Consales et al, 2016). It is based on a much larger sample than the one used before (with, however, correspondingly lower quality of useful data) and the results are consistent with the different other studies.

Thus we confirm that in addition to the many social-cultural benefits and food production allowed in the gardens (Draper & Freedman, 2010; Duchemin et al, 2010) Pourias 2014 et 2015) they also host an urban and agronomic ordinary but extremely rich diversity. Considering the various current and future health, ecological and economic crises, allotment and collective gardens are highly valuable infrastructures to be protected and developed.

We are convinced that the application – to the letter – of coherent internal regulations associated with the gardening and environment charter could, together with information/training, be sufficient to maintain a satisfactory level of biological diversity and sustainable development.

Our sincere thanks to all those, who participated in this study and hearty congratulations to Mrs. Suzie Dermion, who successfully defended her thesis on 30th September 2020.

Sources: extracts from the thesis presented by Suzie Derminon for the AgroParisTech engineering diploma: “survey of the biodiversity on allotment gardens and the perception the gardeners have on this. Analysis of the answers given in the survey launched by the FNJFC in 2019”

Badis MERAD
Director FNJFC

You can find below the whole article in French as it was published in the magazine: Jardin Familial de France no. 526 July-August 2021

Diplomas 2021

In 2021 the International Allotment Federation awarded again diplomas for ecological gardening and innovative projects.

Due to the pandemic, the statutory duties were complied this year by an electronic vote. It was decided to respond positively to the request for two ecological and two innovative diplomas.

These diplomas should have been remitted during the international congress in Berlin, which had, however, to be cancelled due to the Covid crisis. The federations will now directly receive the diplomas, which will then be remitted on national level at an appropriate occasion.

You find below a first short description of the projects. A more detailed information will follow in the Hyphen.

 

The colonists Berit Hogstad and Bjørn Johansson received together with their association”Solvang avdeling 5” in Oslo (N) the diploma of the International Federation for ecological gardening

In only three years Berit Hogstad and Bjørn Johansson have built a solid competence in beekeeping. This year their honey was a gold medal winner in the Norwegian Championship. The couple is a brilliant ambassador for urban and ecological agriculture and shares their knowledge willingly with fellow colonists and Oslo`s residents.

They meet regularly other beekeeper to share experiences and knowledge.

Gold medal winner in the Norwegian Championship 2020
This season they tried really hard to make different types honey with a great variety in taste. Therefore they decided to harvest several times through the season. They harvested in the beginning of June, in late July and at the end of August. There was an outstanding difference in taste between these three types of honey. They knew that their honey was of great quality this year and entered the Norwegian Championship with two very different products: spring honey and autumn honey.

Sharing competence and contribution to the local community
Berit Hogstad and Bjørn Johansson want to raise awareness about the importance of bees in the global food production. On different occasions they have held lectures and tours, introducing audience to beekeeping. Here they tell them about the life in the cubes and give out tastings of different types of their local honey and their homebrewed “mjød”. Mjød is an alcoholic drink, brewed on honey, with ancestry from the Viking Age.
There are many factors that give a good harvest. Pollination is one very important factor for the harvest fruits and berries. Bees are well known for their pollinating skills and can increase the production of fruit and berries by 30%.

These allotment gardeners are an example in the association “Solvang avdeling 5” due both to their exchange with others, the sharing of their knowledge and to the positive influence on the plants on the site thanks to their activity. Consequently, the association also becomes an example to imitate.

 

The garden park Nieuw Vredelust in Amsterdam-Duivendrecht received the diploma for ecological gardening

Nieuw Vredelust (New Vredelust) is a garden park in Amsterdam-Duivendrecht with 103 gardens, founded in 1960.

In 2018, it started with the project Quality Mark Natural Gardening and in October 2020 awarded with a Quality Mark Shield which contained 4 dots – the highest possible.

In 2020, a year in which we all dealt with the restrictions regarding covid-19, the garden park turned out to be for countless people a pleasant and safe shelter in nature. Even though it is relatively small for Amsterdam standards, the common greenery is extremely diverse. The trees in the park are about sixty years old and provide shelters for owls, birds, bats and insects. Native, local and wild plants grow under the trees around the park.

The ditch sides are being mowed in phases with the scythe, so herbal vegetation is a result. The garden borders around the clubhouse are full of Bulgarian onions, various herbs and lots of host plants and nectar sources. Especially for amphibians and nesting ducks there are floating islands in the ditches, which also purify the water.

The public nature garden De Wijde Blick (The Wide View) includes shell paths, a pond, a herb and scent garden, spacious flower beds, various fruit trees, overgrown stone walls and a wild life hedge. De Wijde Blick has a lot of food sources for any animal that flies or crawls. Much more activities were made for the protection and advancement for the fauna and flora.

“Garden 94” is a freely accessible public garden of approximately 300 m2. Visitors can rest there and enjoy the greenery. There’s also a toilet facility. Signs at the entrances show what can be harvested.

Natural Gardening is widely supported. The coordinator of De Wijde Blick, together with a board member, plays a pioneering role, also in the communication with the gardeners. Gardeners receive a monthly newsletter and three times a year a richly illustrated magazine, in which tips and experiences are shared. Gardeners also actively use a social media group app to exchange plants.

New gardeners get a quick start and learn to maintain their garden in an nature-friendly way, how to compost and how to plant.

 

The allotment garden site “Sogn” in Oslo received the diploma for innovative projects

In 2018, Sogn Allotment Garden, centrally located in Norway’s capital Oslo, and NIVA (the Norwegian Institute for Water Research), together with life sciences and water management institutions, including the City of Oslo represented by the Agency for Water and Wastewater Services, initiated a collaboration project and initiative called Sogn Hagelab (Sogn Garden lab) to co-develop, demonstrate and test nature-based, blue-green storm water management solutions on-site in the Allotment Garden.

In the project, Sogn allotment garden contributes with volunteers, gardening and local knowledge, plant donations, testing and demonstration areas. NIVA carries out research and knowledge transfer (self-financing) and project coordination. The Norwegian University of Life Science (NMBU) contributes with guidance of master student projects and knowledge transfer (self-financing). The City of Oslo has provided funding and contributes with knowledge transfer and dissemination opportunities. Construction entrepreneurs have been involved in the building of the structures, and there has been interest from suppliers to contribute with hardware and materials (on varying commercial terms). Other finance partners, such as the Savings Bank Foundation DNB and Hageselskapet, through the Olaf Billes donorship foundation, have contributed to various communications, research and testing as well as other activities.

The project has gathered widespread interest nationally and internationally and created a strong community feeling amongst the participants. Even more importantly, the blue-green structures so far seem to have positively impacted the storm water distribution in the common areas, as well as provided an opportunity to learn about nature-based approaches to storm water management.

The International Federation’s diploma for innovative projects was granted to the allotment association SOGN in Oslo for the exemplary engagement of their members in this future orientated project and so to help to meet our today’s challenges and to make their contribution to a sustainable development.

 

The allotment association ”Steffens Minne” in Karlstad (SE) received the diploma for innovative projects

The association ”Steffens Mine” has worked actively for the past few years with a number of interesting, innovative and environmentally friendly projects, several of which have had biodiversity in focus.

1 An insect friendly meadow: They have created meadows with flowers and grass to attract insects and promote biodiversity.

2 Using scythes: As the main purpose of the meadows is to promote insects, the grass and the flowers are cut in autumn by using scythes. Members of the environmental group acquired a number of scythes and learned how to use them and now they teach other interested members.

The grass harvested is used for covering the soil in the vegetable patches, maintaining moisture in the soil and keeping weeds out. The grass also works as a fertilizer and enhances the soil.

3 Producing their own biochar (charcoal:) A group of people, including some from the environmental group, have been learning how to make their own biochar from wood and branches. The utilisation of biochar has a positive influence on the soil, the soil structure, the plants and the climate. The association has now invested in their own bio char machine and will continue to make biochar.

4 Insect hotels and ”living quarters” for wild bees: The association members have build nests/living quarters for wild bees and a more traditional insect hotel.

5 ”Extra” - Active during 2020: Despite the pandemic, the association continued their work with a number of different activities. To be able to do this, they did their best to make the activities corona safe. The activities were outdoors. All participants kept a corona safe distance to each other.

The association also had yoga a number of times on their big lawn, a very popular and much appreciated activity.

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