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The publication ’At the Cottage and on the Plot’

Mr. Pertti Laitila The Federation of Finnish Allotment Gardens (Suomen Siirtolapuutarhaliitto) has made its own Society's Commitment. The Finnish ‘Society's Commitment to Sustainable Development’ is a key instrument for implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As part of fulfilling the commitment the federation carried out two extensive surveys – one targeting the member federations and the other targeting single allotment gardeners.

Based on the results of the surveys the federation’s environment working committee decided to make a publication covering different issues that are important for allotment gardeners. The publication is a 128-page guidebook that covers the themes of sustainable development extensively, but not exhaustively. In addition to gardening, issues of construction, energy and waste management are addressed, as well as the communality of associations, not forgetting the social aspect. The authors hope that the guide will be widely used and that all allotment gardeners will find useful ideas for developing their own and their association's activities.

In the book, the federation utilizes material created within its sustainable development project, different course materials and material produced in various member associations. One source has also been the thesis of Ms. Reija Mikkola-Patriarca, M.Sc., who acted as a consultant in the project. In addition, the publication also contains some texts produced exclusively for this work.

The making of this publication was made possible by a significant financial support from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. Due to the financial support the Finnish Federation was able to distribute the publication free of charge to all the allotment gardeners in all the member associations.

Call for participation in the European scientific project INCREASE

Led by a group of European researchers, INCREASE is a program which aims to preserve the agro-biodiversity of food legumes, in the context of the evolution of agriculture towards more sustainable practices and healthier food products. We are addressing gardeners motivated by a sustainable development approach, to contribute to the study of local varieties of legumes and their conservation.

We seek gardeners to contribute to a citizen science experiment organized by the European scientific project INCREASE.

Insect protection and allotment gardens belong together

Allotment gardens do not only provide important ecosystems services for people, but they are above all an extremely important habitat for flower-pollinating insects. The current draft concerning the law concerning “the protection of insect diversity in Germany” in short “insect protection law” – now offers the opportunity to protect both: insects and their important habitat i.e. allotment garden areas.

This is so because the draft bill stipulates amendments to the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG): Thus paragraph §I BNatSchG requires among others, “open spaces in populated areas and areas close to settlement, including their components, such as parks, large-scale green spaces and green corridors (…..)” to be preserved. At the same time, these open spaces are to be created “where they are not sufficiently available”.

Within the framework of the consultation of the federations, the BDG (German allotment federation) is lobbying the Ministry of the environment, which is in charge of the law, for an explicit mention of “allotment gardens in the sense of the federal allotment garden law” in connection with the new version of the §I BNatSchG and will also follow the parliamentary legislative procedure.

In pursuing this goal, the BDG knows that it has expert allies with great nature conservation expertise at its side. In its statement the BUND e.V. is also demanding for “allotment gardens in the sense of the Federal Allotment Garden Law” to be taken into account in the BNatSchG. There is nothing to be added to the technical assessment of the BUND’s statement. “Allotment gardens are valuable and appreciated biotopes for insect species (….). Allotment gardens are partly hotspots for rare insect species and should be given special attention in the protection and expansion of those areas”.

Sandra von REKOWSKI, BDG

The European allotment gardeners’ wish this process great success and offer their support. This legal consideration would be a further proof of the importance of allotment gardens in urban areas.

News from the INGOs at the Council of Europe

On 15th and 16th December 2020 the online October meeting was continued. The main subject was the amendment of the INGO’s rules of procedure. The aim of this amendment is to reach a greater efficiency and flexibility of the work between the INGOs and the Council of Europe. This reform has now to prove its value and the INGOs have to see how they can find their place in this new structure.

Additionally, three resolutions were adopted concerning the safeguarding of Human Rights and different aspects of the pandemic. You find the texts below in English and French.

Draft Recommendation – COVID-19 pandemic: Call for ethical and human rights compliant management

Draft Declaration of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe on the place and role of civil society in safeguarding human rights, democracy and the rule of law

Draft Resolution “The cultural and creative sectors undermined by COVID-19”

End of the year 2020

Dear allotment gardeners

A difficult year lies behind us, the future is uncertain; nothing will be the same as before.

“Are we flexible and ready for the future?”

Over the past year, the Office has done a lot of work to prepare itself for the future and to provide its members with additional resources to support the individual allotment gardeners on national level. This can be done by the issue of new documents and the exchange of experiences and knowledge.

Unfortunately, the study session had to be cancelled, preventing us to discuss common important problems and so providing the national delegates with new findings to take home to solve the existing problems with additional, new approaches.

However, on the one hand, the work to adapt our statutes to today’s requirements could be finished and the affiliation fees increased in order to gradually regain a balanced budget and thus remain functional.

On the other hand, the Hyphens could continue to be issued dealing with specific topics, which provided knowledge and suggestions to the individual allotment gardeners, highlighted current issues and gave them examples of good practice.

There is one thing we all have to be aware of. We cannot simply carry on as we have done up to now. “Business as usual” is no longer an option. We have to guide the allotment movement on all levels into other, new paths, but without throwing over board our past, on which our predecessors built our movement.

We have to attract new and more members, not only to compensate for internal age related departures, but to attract new interested people. I am thinking of individual gardeners, without a plot on an allotment site, people who want a different kind of gardening, such as in raised beds, in a communal plot …..

The offer of new forms of plots, as for example therapy gardens and school gardens, is a necessity in order to both attract these interested parties and to offer an added value to the population in general and so to remain an indispensable element in our cities.

We must then prepare ourselves for a mode of cooperation rather than a mode of competition with other organisations. In order to achieve this, we must identify areas of common interest, realise that the strength lies in the number of members and that together we can strengthen our impact. Of course, we must trust each other to pull together in the same direction.

The further development of our specific expertise is desirable in order to become a considered as well as a confirmed and professional partner.

Even if associations and federations are increasingly dependent on professional staff, they cannot do without the support and commitment of volunteers. They must recognise the need of the hour and organise and adapt the deployment of volunteers in such a way that they feel further motivated.

So great challenges lie ahead and are waiting to be mastered.

Let us join forces to shape the future together, so that our children and grand-children can enjoy the benefits of an allotment garden plot and continue to contribute to the environment, society, fauna and flora with their plot.

In this optic I wish you all a good health, courage, and foresight, but also a bit of luck and success for 2021.

Secretary general of the International Office du
Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux.

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