AllotmentsMy plot of land
by Ester Unterfinger
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.
Vito CrudoFrom Italy
My little daughter loves playing with our neighbours’ girl and the two can run around to their hearts’ content. It’s important for children to have this space."
Diana and Andreas Bandomirfrom Poland
I love the biotope here with its frogs and fish. My husband looks after our organic vegetables and I make fruit compote. It is delicious.
We have nice neighbours, a great view and, apart from the roses, we don’t treat anything with pesticides."
Garden gloves hang to dry on a clothesline
Self-care, diligence and family spirit
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.
René and Evi Braunfrom Switzerland
We love nature and we have had the allotment for three years. It’s a great place to create some headspace.
Our grown-up sons also come here to have barbeques with their friends.”
Looking through an open door into the garden
Murat and Birsen Lavanurfrom Turkey
We enjoy cooking and having barbeques here in these cosy surroundings. We like working in the garden and we share all the work.
Our kids can spend some time in nature and can run around freely.”
A girl eats potato chips at the garden table
Swiss Association of Allotment Gardeners
Allotments are not only the green lungs of a city, they also reflect society and the age we live in. They are also instrumental for the integration and social interaction in communities and city quarters. The umbrella association works on projects providing space for children, the elderly and refugees.
Sebastian Suvafrom Romania
I have had my allotment for five years. I want my children to know how things grow, what they eat and that their food needs looking after.
It is a great balance to my professional life as it allows me to think about other things. I also like coming here in winter."
Watering can from which grasses grow
Pedro and Tavares Goncalvezfrom Portugal
Here we can relax from everyday life and sit in the sun. Our kids also like coming here."
Tavares Goncalvez kneads on pizza dough
Toasting with beer
Combining the multicultural mix and the different requirements is not always easy, which is why many allotments in Switzerland have strict rules.
Theiler familyfrom Switzerland
We really appreciate our neighbours and their helpfulness.
The only downside is getting the allotment ready for the winter. It’s a lot of work."
My dog and I often sit here and reflect on things."
Sitting girl and boy of stone
Sharing the simple pleasure of gardening
On the outskirts of the Swiss capital Bern, two women work side-by-side weeding herbs. The scene is timeless but this garden owner and recent graduate are participating in a very modern social contract.
Construction casts shadow over city gardens
Garden allotments are vital community hubs in Swiss cities, but they are increasingly losing the battle for space to new housing projects.
A peony for your thoughts
It was 20 years ago that the Zurich University of Applied Sciences planted a peonies garden. It's a floral attraction for visitors near and far when the 250 different varieties are in bloom.