Schrebergarten - home of gnomes

written on 17/09/2020
by Heidrun Strobl

The traditional German Schrebergarten (allotment garden) is a leased property, which is confined by fences or hedges and managed by clubs.

Where does the name Schrebergarten come from?

The namesake Schreber was a doctor and a professor in Leipzig. He didn’t invent the Schrebergarten as such, but to honor him a green area was named after him.

The first Schreber-Verein (Club) was established in 1865, 4 years after his death, by his colleague Ernst Hauschild. 

The intention of this club was to give the kids of factory workers the chance to play and to do gymnastics outdoors under educational guidance on the so called ‘Schreberwiese’.

The whole concept was changed a few years later by Heinrich Gesell. He created a number of small garden units on the ‘Schreberwiese’ in order to create different play areas.

Over the next few years, the whole green area was split into parcels out, giving rise to over 100 units by 1869. 

This rapid development changed the nature of the Schreber-Verein and resulted in the introduction of bylaws allowing the parcels of land to not only be used for gardening but also for the construction of small structures, such as tool sheds or arbors.

The first so called 'Schrebergarten - Verein' was born. The idea spread rapidly and by 1891 there were another 14 Schrebergarten-Vereine in Leipzig. 

Today the historical allotment area is called 'Dr. Schreber' and is under protection. Since 1996 it houses the 'deutsche Kleingärtnermuseum'.

The idea of the allotment garden became popular not only in Germany but also in Europe. Often the little arbors were expanded and made habitable, vegetables were grown.

In addition to providing recreation, these gardens became an important source of food and accommodation following the times of hardship after the World Wars. 

Today the use of the Schrebergarten is codified in the 'Bundeskleingartengesetz'. 

The property has to be under 400m/2 and at least on 1/3 of the terrain fruits and vegetables have to be cultivated. Overnighters only on weekends and no heating in the cabins. And so on ...

Only Heinz the gnome has the right to live in the Schrebergarten all year long 😀