This is a Kleingarten (aka Schrebergarten or allotment garden), something I’d never heard of before coming here. They can be seen all over Germany—kind of like community gardens with a monthly membership fee for a piece of land and a house, which the gardener has to purchase. Lots of people use them as summer houses and as a way to have a garden, even though they might live in an apartment in the city. Kleingarten communities can be spied from the window of the S-Bahn, tucked in next to a busy street, or adjacent to a city park.
I was disappointed to hear that Kleingartens had such a negative reputation amongst younger Germans, who associate them with crotchety old people who insist on following a long list of dreary rules like how often the grass must be trimmed and how high the hedges have to be. As green as Germans claim to be, I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t some part of the younger population who wouldn’t enjoy gardening and see the possibility of turning these places into something fun.
Well, I’m glad to report that those people do exist. I’ve heard stories now and then about so and so knowing someone who has a garden and no, they aren’t an ancient stick in the mud. Finally, I met a person my age who has one and was invited yesterday afternoon. It was lovely. I was sent home with a bag of lettuce, a zucchini, herbs, and a bouquet of flowers.