Dear allotment gardeners
„You don’t have to die first to get to paradise as long as you have a garden“ (Persian proverb).
During the pandemic, allotment gardeners have more than ever appreciated their little paradise and more and more city dwellers have (re) discovered allotments.
So, are allotments an element to alleviate crises?
More and more scientists underline the correlation between the reduction of biodiversity and the emergence of pandemics. Everyone is becoming aware more and more that environmental protection is health protection.
So, are allotments an indispensable element for a sustainable future?
Considering the development of our movement and the future strategies of our federations, both hypotheses are probably true.
In order to meet these goals and to support the federations in the best possible way, our international grouping has changed its statutes. The name has been modernised and is now: Fédération Internationale des Jardins Familiaux (International allotment federation
The International Federation has applied for accreditation with the United Nations Environment Program in order to acquire new knowledge as well as to promote our interests and to raise awareness for the benefits of allotments (in whatever form). The observer status with the United Nations Environment Assembly was granted to the International Federation on 6th July 2021.
We are active in the Council of Europe on issues such as, for example, environmental protection and climate change. This year the International Federation was invited to take part in the activities of the European Landscape Convention and it is considering asking for the observer status with the Committee for Culture, Cultural Heritage and Landscape at the Council of Europe. This is also a means to both gather knowledge and to lobby.
On invitation of the EU Commission, our federation took part in a meeting of the Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health.
In the Hyphen, we have started a new series with the presentation of the federations’ strategies for the future, in order to give suggestions so that we can all position ourselves in the best possible way for the future.
Currently, we are also considering how to improve the structure of the general secretariat in order to be able to work even more efficiently in the future.
Despite the pandemic, meaningful work could and will continue to be done for all allotment gardeners.
Also, in your federation and associations, the upcoming challenges have to be addressed now, and not in a few years, in order to be well prepared for the future according to the proverb: “In failing to prepare, you will prepare to fail”.
Therefore, work out a multi-year strategic plan. Together with your members define your vision for your federation/association. Consider the opportunities that are available to you and choose the best ones according to your financial and material resources. Set accents and priorities, which you then put into practice with determination in order to carry out pioneering work. Don’t forget in your actions to push forward the digitalisation of your associations. The digital divide is the new face of inequality, also in the associations.
Let us continue to learn from each other in 2022 and join forces in the associations, as well as in the national and international federations.
In this spirit, I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season, a good health as well as courage, strength and foresight to continue developing our movement together on all levels.
Fédération Internationale des Jardins Familiaux
The „Zentralverband der Kleingärtner und Siedler Österreichs“ (Central Federation of Allotment Gardeners and Settlers of Austria) and the „Landesverband Wien“ (Regional Federation of Vienna) have established a cooperation with the Adult Education Center Simmering. The aim is to impart knowledge to all those interested in gardening. Thereby a focus on the important topic of close-to-nature gardening is to take place.
In the current pandemic, many areas have been converted to distance learning. Webinars have become the first choice in adult education. The Central Federation of Allotment Gardeners is also planning to hold some of the training for gardening advisors in this form. Therefore, we gladly accepted the cooperation offer of the Adult Education Center Simmering.
On the one hand, we can use the existing infrastructure of the Adult Education Centers and gain experience, and on the other hand, we can pursue our goals for nature-friendly gardening accessible to a broader public through the choice of topics for the lectures.
In addition to the experts from the Central Federation, lecturers of the research institute "Bioforschung Austria" (Bio-Research Austria) have been gained. Registration, technical implementation, and moderation will be provided by the Adult Education Center Simmering. The lecture fee is 4 euros.
Lawn - or is a meadow enough?
Lecturer Karl Wittmann, April 22, 2021
Wild herbs - good for health and bees
Lecturer Elke Papouschek, May 27, 2021
Compost - a valuable resource in the garden
Speaker Katharina Sandler, Bio Research Austria, May 31 and December 2, 2021
Drought in the garden - microclimate through planting!
Lecturer Daniela Lehner, Bio Research Austria, June 24, 2021
Nature conservation begins in your own garden
Lecturer Katharina Sandler, Bio Research Austria, October 21, 2021
Soil life - The diversity in the soil
Lecturer DI Lisa Doppelbauer, Bio Research Austria, November 18, 2021
The garden, a habitat for wild bees
Lecturer Katharina Zenz, Bio Research Austria, January 13, 2022
Sustainable green - the right choice of plants
Lecturer Katharina Sandler, Bio Research Austria, January 27, 2021
"Many regionally typical fruit and vegetable species and varieties that were cultivated for centuries in monastery or farm gardens have now disappeared - mostly completely unnoticed. According to estimates, 75% of cultivated plant varieties have become extinct worldwide since 1900. 90% of all known tomato varieties are no longer traded, many of them no longer exist at all. Planting and propagating old fruit and vegetable varieties is therefore an important contribution to preserving the genetic diversity of our cultivated plants. Varieties typical of the region not only enrich the menu, but - because they are adapted to their location - are often also more robust, more resistant and therefore easier and safer to grow" (Position paper "Measures for the ecological upgrading of allotment gardens", Bundesverband Deutscher Gartenfreunde e.V.).
The European Seed Law is being renegotiated for the first time in decades. It is important to us that crop diversity is preserved and promoted. The negotiation processes are currently underway, and political participation is now possible and necessary. In January 2022, for example, the public consultation will take place: “Have your say” (europa.eu; Commission's citizen participation portal).
The 15th Symposium on Crop and Livestock Diversity from 12-14 November 2021 with participants from various diversity stakeholders from the German-speaking countries highlighted the importance of this reform. The four options are still vaguely formulated in a study commissioned by the EU Commission, but it is already clear that cultural diversity is being given a hearing, but its safeguarding and promotion are by no means firmly anchored. It is therefore necessary to get involved politically.
The BDG and the Federation Internationale Jardins Familiaux will continue to campaign for the preservation and promotion of crop diversity.
For about 200 years there have been allotment gardens in Germany for the cultivation of horticultural products for personal use, initially out of sheer necessity to provide oneself with essential food, nowadays for the joy of gardening, as an experience for children and for healthy organic produce. "Urban gardening” is in vogue.
However, the value of allotment gardens for food supply should not be underestimated. Knowing how, a family can be self-sufficient all year round through the organic cultivation of fruit and vegetables on a plot. An estimated 5 million people make use of the benefits of allotment gardening, which is protected by the federal allotment garden law, an initial situation that is unparalleled internationally.
What is a hobby in our country forms the backbone of the food supply of the population in global terms as "small-scale agriculture". It is worthwhile to take a closer look at these forms of food production and to research them further scientifically!
The BDG therefore supports "Hidden Champions", a discussion paper by the Deutsche Schreberjugend Bundesverband e.V., which uses individual examples and scientific studies to highlight the potential and importance of self-cultivation in allotment gardens.
In view of the challenges of our time, we are more than ever dependent on sustainable land management and food production that is socially, naturally and environmentally compatible. Our allotment gardens show how it can be done, regionally and seasonally, ecologically, environmentally and climate friendly! In addition, the knowledge of growing one's own fruit and vegetables has always been promoted here and passed on to children and adults. This must be preserved and further developed!
Eva Foos, BDG
You can read the paper “Hidden Champions” here: (automatically translated)
The INGOs of the Committee on Environmental and Sanitary Crisis from the Conference of INGOs at the Council of Europe, make their voice heard and call for solidarity and urgent action by States, economic actors and civil society for the safeguard of the common house.
Their text was approved by the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe.