Sunday, March 6, 2011

CPH edition: What's growing in your backyard?

The first Kolonihave I encountered.

Denmark has approximately 6,200 allotment gardens they can be found in all different types of spaces. Often times new structures are built surrounding the communities without any thought for how it will affect the microclimate of these small scale farming communities.
On Orestad, a suburban island of Copenhagen I studied two separate kolonihave translated from Dansk, to allotment.
I remember vividly the first time I encountered what was soon to be labeled kolonihave. It was the end of the first week of being in Copenhagen and I had decided to take my daily walk behind the apartment. As I turned a corner I couldn't believe what was in front of me. Right off of a busy residential road, essentially a boulevard, was a dirt and gravel path that lead to an entire community built around the principle of farming. As I explored Denmark over the next three months I drifted in and out of these communities and saw how the urban fabric was designed around them.

Names of vegetables
translated into Dansk 
Through interviews with residents I developed even more of an appreciation for this type of community. The first interview happened during my initial encounter with this new and mysterious landscape. I was approached by a middle age lady who wanted to know what I was doing in her community. As I learned from her, these communities are victims of vandalism by local teens. When I explained my purpose of being in Denmark she became very receptive to questions I asked and filled me in on the gossip of the kolonihave.
She explained to me what she grows- berries, and what her neighbors, the young couple with a new born, herbs, the 84 yr old, who gardens to stay young,  rhubarb and kale, and the man at the end of the lot who grows his own grapes to press into wine. She spoke about how the community gets together to share the harvest. Despite a language barrier we were able to point out and identify plants.This was one of many people that I encountered through out Denmark.

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