Allotments – Schrebegärten

Allotments in the United Kingdom were first created in the early 19th century, the earliest being from 1809 in Great Somerford, Wiltshire.

Although the use of the rod as a unit of measurement has been illegal since 1965, most allotments are measured in square rods. The average size being 10 square rods (250m2) and no allotment may be larger than 40 square rods (1000m2).

According to the Allotments Act 1950, the allotment must be used for the production of vegetables, fruit or flowers for the use of the plot holder and their family. Rabbits and chickens are allowed to be kept on allotments but most local councils try to discourage this as it leads to an increase in the vermin population. Commercial activity is forbidden.

The number of plots has varied from 1.5 million during the two world wars to just over 300,000 today.


In Germany, during the 19th century, large numbers of people migrated from rural areas to the cities in search of work. Poor living conditions prompted the authorities to provide open spaces for garden purposes. 

The Schreber movement started in Leipzig in the mid 1860s. Named after Dr Moritz Schreber, a physician and teacher at the University of Leipzig, the purpose was to create a play area for children to exercise. However, they soon became actual gardens and adults began cultivation to provide food. 

Today there are about 1.4 million allotments in Germany with 833 allotment complexes in Berlin alone.


This series of pictures attempts to show some of the differences, developed over many years, between allotments in the two countries. In the UK, the sites have remained almost exclusively for growing vegetables, fruit and flowers. Whereas in Germany, due to the increasing number of apartment dwellers, the allotment has, in many cases, become a place for relaxation and weekend breaks.