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In many cities of Germany, you can easily spot these cute little garden houses, often decorated like in ferry tales. Today, according to Wikipedia’s information, there are still about 1.4 million Kleingartensparte (or Allotments gardens) in Germany covering an area of 470 km².

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The history of the allotment gardens in Germany is closely connected with the period of industrialization and urbanization in Europe during the 19th century when a large number of people migrated to the cities to find employment and a better life. Very often, these families were living under extremely poor conditions suffering from inappropriate housing, malnutrition and other forms of social neglect. To improve their overall situation and to allow them to grow their own food, the city administrations, the churches or their employers provided open spaces for garden purposes. These were initially called the “gardens of the poor” and were later termed as “allotment gardens”.

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The idea of organized allotment gardening reached a first peak after 1864. A public initiative decided to lease areas within the city, with the purpose to make it possible for children to play in a healthy environment. Later, adults tended towards taking over and cultivating these gardens. This kind of gardening type rapidly gained popularity not only in Germany, but also in other European countries.

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The aspect of food security provided by allotment gardens became particularly evident during World Wars I and II. The socio-economic situation was very miserable, particularly as regards the nutritional status of urban residents. Many cities were isolated from their rural hinterlands and agricultural products either did not reach the city markets or were sold at very high prices at the black markets. Consequently, food production within the city, especially fruit and vegetable production in home gardens, became essential for survival.

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Nevertheless, the importance of allotment gardening in Germany has shifted over the years. Its present functions have turned into recreational areas and locations for social gatherings, especially after busy working days and the hectic urban atmosphere. They are substantially contributing to the conservation of nature within cities.

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(Text excerpted from Wikipedia)

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