Allotment gardening is no longer seen as the preserve of retirees. Green-fingered and environmentally-conscious millennials are signing up for a patch of nature where they can grow their own food.
One of the countries seeing a new generation wanting to take over plots is Germany, where allotment gardens have been part of urban life since the 19th century. The average age of alllotment gardeners has dropped five years since 2011.
Allotment gardens are known as Kleingarten, small gardens, or Schrebergarten, after the Leipzig physician and professor Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber, who encouraged children to play outdoors. They sprang up in German cities during the Industrial Revolution to provide fresh air and food for the urban poor.
Today there are almost 1 million allotment garden tenants in Germany, with rising demand from millennials, particularly families with children, a recent study found.
What's the World Economic Forum doing about the future of cities?
Cities represent humanity's greatest achievements - and greatest challenges. From inequality to air pollution, poorly designed cities are feeling the strain as 68% of humanity is predicted to live in urban areas by 2050.
The World Economic Forum supports a number of projects designed to make cities cleaner, greener and more inclusive.
These include hosting the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, which gathers bright ideas from around the world to inspire city leaders, and running the Future of Urban Development and Services initiative. The latter focuses on how themes such as the circular economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be harnessed to create better cities. To shed light on the housing crisis, the Forum has produced the report Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities.
The benefits of nature
The appeal of allotment gardening reflects an increasing need to be more involved in nature conservation and create green, open spaces for rest and relaxation, especially in metropolitan areas, the study says.
It’s also part of a broader urban gardening trend in which green spaces are sprouting in unlikely places, from car parks and shipping containers to the roofs of high-rises.
The rise of veganism, concerns about pesticides and other chemicals, and a desire to eat sustainably and reduce plastic packaging are some of the factors behind this. There are also physical and mental health benefits.
Numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature can be therapeutic. That’s good news for young people dreaming of an allotment. In Berlin, there’s a three- to five-year waiting list of about 12,000 would-be gardeners, the BBC reports.