(Henrik Enemark Sørensen, Aarhus)
Welcome to “Skovlunden” – an allotment-garden society consisting of more than 100 individual plots of land, each developed to reflect their owners’ expressions of a little (country) haven away from their regular city homes.
In Denmark there are about 62,000 allotment gardens, which are divided into 1019 local allotment societies, or “colonies” of gardens as the Danes say. In 1884, these gardens were formed to offer working class families from densely populated towns and city centers a place to claim a bit of the outdoors. Here the families had an opportunity to get fresh air, relax and enjoy themselves. Often the gardens were used to help families put food on the table. They were “kitchen gardens,” filled with fruits and vegetables, which helped ease the financial burden of feeding a family during tough times. Some gardeners also cultivated small and beautiful flower gardens on their plots of land, planted trees and bushes and built little sheds for seeking shelter on rainy or cold days.
“Skovlunden,” which in Danish means “The Forest Grove,” was established in 1933 and consists of 133 separate gardens. All have small houses, some of which have become increasingly rebuilt, renovated and modernized to better suit the needs of contemporary families, so that the range now covers everything from little cabins to summerhouses with all amenities. Most gardens cover an area of about 400 square meters, although a few are bigger. Members of the society rent their gardens from the City of Aarhus, but the houses are bought and sold when the gardens change hands.
Situated in the middle of the woods south of Aarhus, close to beautiful beaches and parks and only a 15-minute bike ride from the city center, Skovlunden is a very attractive allotment society. Many prospective members stand on a waiting list for several years before being lucky enough to be offered a garden. Members constitute a varied and mixed group of people including families with small children, young people and singles, and senior citizens. All enjoy life in their gardens and in spite of the big differences in the members’ backgrounds and ages the society is known for a large degree of friendliness, helpfulness and solidarity. In the summer months a large number of activities are available to the members: Midsummer celebrations, a yearly excursion to tour other gardens somewhere in Jutland, a petanque tournament, presentations and talks, a summer party for all members, a flea market, a chance to turn your apple harvest into freshly pressed juice and other events.
Skovlunden has its own little shop run by the members and open on weekends. This common building also houses an office plus a holiday apartment that can be rented by the members for guests wanting to stay overnight.