An allotment in Europe is usually defined as a small area leased for a certain period by individuals who cultivate vegetables, fruits and flowers. An allotment garden (British English), often called simply an allotment, or a community garden (North America) is a plot of land made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing food plants. The term allotment is not used in the United States to refer to these garden plots.
The first idea to build modern allotment gardens orginates from Germany in the early 1800's. The pioneer was the doctor Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (1808-1861) from Leipzig. He considered the allotment garden to be important for both public health and for poor families with children in an urban environment. The modern allotment garden became an international phenomenon arising all over Europe around 1900. During the two World Wars the construction of the allotment gardens intensified.
The first Swedish allotment gardens were established in southern Sweden around 1895. The models were gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. The now oldest allotments in Stockholm were established in 1905. The promoter of the Swedish allotment garden movement was the Social democrat politician Anna Lindhagen (1870-1941) who wanted to improve the conditions of the working class. "The Association of allotment gardens" was founded in Stockholm in 1906. Allotment areas were established in the border between the city and the countryside. The land was leased by the city.
The movement expanded dramatically all over the country.
There were allotments in 37 Swedish cities in 1916. There were allotments in most Swedish cities and larger communities in 1945. There are about 51.000 allotments in Sweden today. 66 % has got a cottage. Allotment gardening is one of the largest social movements in Sweden.
The interest in allotments has varied over the years. They have developed from primarily utility garrdens into more ornamental gardens and places of recreation. Nowadays there is a great interest in organic farming. Allotment gardens are demanded by more and more people. Today's colonists can be described as a cross-section of contemporary society.
A mixture of people of all ages, professions and nationalities.
Several allotment garden areas are considered as cultural and historical interests. They are part of the Swedish heritage and worth preserving for the future.
You can find an allotment area with cottages from the 1920 - and 1940's at Skansen, Stockholm. Open to visitors daily.
Dalen allotment area - Stockholm, in 1917
Anna Lindhagen (1870-1941) in white dress. She was the promoter of the Swedish allotment movement. Anna Lindhagen was also one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the Swedish Society for Woman Suffrage.
A construction drawing of a Swedish allotment cottage in 1913.