Thursday, July 9, 2009

German Curiosities

I'm not going to start with more idioms, even though I heard another great one on the German children's program this morning. We'll get to that later.

I took the kids for a walk this morning. Our small apartment is in an area with mostly apartment houses (Mietshauser). We walked through a small "garden settlement" (Gartensiedlung) with "Schrebergarten" or Kleingarten (small garden). Those settlements didn't seem unusual when I was growing up here, but now they seem so uniquely German.

As I said those garden areas are located in the metropolitan area, where most people live in apartments and don't have access to a garden of their own. A few of them are public, but most of them are "clubs." Either way, you have to get on a waiting list to be consider for a "small garden." It could be that the public ones are for low income households. Anyway, many of the Schrebergarten areas were established after WWII to allow people to grow their own vegetables and have a more steady supply of food. Most people have nice sheds on their garden patch. On some of them you may even find "real houses." This is also left over from post WWII times, when there weren't enough apartments/houses and people expanded their sheds into small houses. City governments typically didn't crack down on those illegeal houses, and tenants received lifelong living rights in their deluxe sheds.

Yes, and of course there is a federal law (Bundeskleingartengesetz) governing everything "small graden." I think that the "movement" originated in Germany, but it spread all across Europe after WWII and today it is also used in developing countries as a way to ensure steady food supply for families.

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