Learning with the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe
For newcomers and experienced gardeners alike, there is always something new to learn – not only about gardens and gardening but also about effective ways of preserving nature and protecting the environment. It is for this reason that the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe has set up a modern training centre, the ‘Landesschule’, complete with its own teaching and learning garden. It offers a wide range of further education courses aimed at allotment gardeners of all levels of experience, as well as programmes for managers and treasurers of gardening societies. Courses relating to gardening activities include natural gardening, the ecological cycle, fruit tree pruning, and many more. So feel free to take a look at what we have to offer!
About the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe
We, the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe, represent the interests of allotment gardeners in these regions. We provide information and advice on all matters relating to hobby gardening, and we work to promote public awareness of allotment gardening by focusing on its importance as a way of enhancing life in urban areas. Naturally, our tasks also include looking after the interests of our members. Read on to find out more about us and our green, social and community activities.
State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe: well-organised and well-connected
- 31 district and municipal associations
- 750 gardening societies
- 44,500 allotment plots
- 73,500 members
The State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe consists of 31 district and municipal associations, organised into 750 gardening societies with a total membership of more than 73,000. Additionally, there are around 300,000 family members, relatives and friends who come and spend time together with our members at their allotments. We also maintain offices and a training centre, the Landesschule, with its teaching and learning garden in Lünen. Financed partly by public funding, we organise a range of teaching and further training courses for educational purposes covering themes related to gardening in harmony with nature as well as important activities in the allotment society. Together with all of our gardening friends, our committee and the members of the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners have a passionate interest in all matters relating to allotment gardening.
Allotments in NRW – over one hundred years of urban gardening
The state of North Rhine Westphalia [NRW] has a long tradition of allotment gardening. The first allotments were established in the Ruhr area in around 1900. Today there are more than 1,600 allotments in NRW with over 120,000 individual garden plots across more than 5,500 hectares of land. Of the plots, 95 % are publicly owned and most are leased by local authorities to self-managed small gardener societies. The approximately 1,600 allotments in NRW are organised into the State Federation of Gardening Friends in the Rhineland [Landesverband Rheinland der Gartenfreunde e.V.] (www.gartenfreunde-rheinland.de) and the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe [Landesverband Westfalen und Lippe der Kleingärtner e.V.]. Both of these groups are members of the Federal Association of German Gardening Friends [Bundesverband Deutscher Gartenfreunde e.V. (BDG)], the umbrella organisation of 19 state associations at federal level, with approximately one million members.
Allotments – green spaces for everyone
The proportion of space given over to public paths and roadways, squares, and play and adventure areas in new and redeveloped allotment parks is around 40-60%. These green urban spaces are places where people can relax in natural surroundings, forget their everyday problems, and enjoy some real quality time.
They offer space for all manner of biotopes as well as great potential for active environmental protection and nature preservation. Gardening societies also take part in partner projects with neighbourhoods, schools, kindergartens, environmental groups and other socially and ecologically based organisations.
Allotment gardening is currently undergoing a renaissance. Working the soil, whether on small or large plots, on raised beds or on sloping ground, is a joy for all gardeners. Relaxing in nature, running your fingers through the earth, breathing in the scent of autumn leaves, enjoying the flavours of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs, and being at one with nature – in these days of climate change and social upheaval, allotment gardens and the communities they constitute are a valuable commodity serving the interests of environmental justice and active climate protection.
Supporting allotment gardens is a constitutional obligation
As you will now realise, allotment gardens are far more than a refuge and a place of creativity for hobby gardeners and members of the public. They are the green lungs of our cities, enhancing our urban climate, providing habitats for animals, and promoting an appreciation of nature that begins in early childhood. The socio-political importance of allotments is something that even the founding mothers and fathers of our state constitution were aware of. It is for this reason that the constitution of the state of NRW obligates public authorities to promote allotment gardening. Article 29 Para. 3 states that “small settlements and allotments must be supported”.
NRW state associations represent our interests in the political sphere
The NRW working group of the state federations [Arbeitsgemeinschaft NRW der Landesverbände] is the political mouthpiece of the State Federation of Gardening Friends in the Rhineland [Landesverband Rheinland der Gartenfreunde e.V.] and the State Federation of Allotment Gardeners in Westphalia and Lippe [Landesverband Westfalen und Lippe der Kleingärtner e.V.], representing more than 160,000 members. They participate jointly in meetings with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, members of the Environment Committee or the Federation of Towns and Municipalities.
Wood, concrete, metal and striking glass facades are the characteristic design features of the Westphalian State Federation’s modern training centre. It houses everything under a single roof, including central offices, seminar and recreation rooms with plenty of daylight, and overnight accommodation. A solar power system provides heat for service water, and green electricity is generated by the photovoltaic system.
It is only a few steps away from the footbridge over the pond leading from the building to the natural garden.
The gateway to the surrounding landscape and the IGA 2027
The Landesschule was completed in 1996 and is integrated in the general design concept of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) and State Garden Show 1996. The 75-metre-long block is oriented in an east-west direction. The building is crossed by the north-south running ‘Nord-Süd-Weg’ which connects the buildings with the surrounding landscape. The structure nestles harmoniously within the Seseke landscape park and is closely connected to it through the gate. In 1996, the Landesschule won the architecture prize awarded by the WestHyp Foundation.
The International Garden Exhibition (IGA) is due to be held in the Ruhr Metropolis in the spring of 2027 and will also take in the Landesschule and its gardens.
Further information is available from Architektur Archive - Gerber Architekten and Regionalverband Ruhr - IGA 2027 im Ruhrgebiet.
Our teaching courses
Merging theory with gardening practice
The Landesschule is a transparent glass classroom in the midst of a blooming garden landscape.
The teaching and learning garden, where theory and practice come together, is only a few steps away, perfect for enjoying nature while promoting relaxed learning and teaching.
The subjects covered are wide ranging and include circular economy, nature-friendly cultivation of fruit and vegetables, garden design, biotope structures, bird and insect protection, gardening association management, association and leasing law, and community integration.
The teaching and learning garden
A short walk leads to the garden
It is only a few steps’ walk from the classroom to the teaching and learning garden, where theory and practice are brought together in a clear and vivid way. A footbridge leads from the seminar and recreation room over a near-natural pond directly into the southern section of the garden.
The teaching and learning garden was extended to the northern side of the Landesschule in 2005. In this part of the garden there is also space to sit or lie on the grass, or to take a leisurely walk and relax in the breaks.
The garden as your feel-good refuge
Sometimes you just have to get out of the city and be surrounded by trees, grass and flowers. Allotment gardens are ecological havens for anyone seeking recreation and nature without having to travel very far. As an allotment gardener, you will be making an important contribution not only to society but to your personal wellbeing too. Delight in the colourful splendour of the blossoms, wonder at the diligence of the animal world, and enjoy the flavours of fruit and vegetables that you yourself have cultivated. A place to relax and feel a real sense of community with people of all ages, social classes, professions and nationalities. You can find out more about the joys of communal allotment gardening here.
Seek a garden and you will find an oasis
Are you in search of an allotment garden? The State Federation of Allotment Gardeners is a union of 750 gardening societies organised into 31 district and city associations. Allotment gardens are available for everyone! Why not drop by some allotments near you where you could imagine having your own plot, the next time you are taking a Sunday stroll. Often, all you need to do is to check the notices on the information board for information about any vacant plots. It is important that the garden isn’t too far from your home if you want to be sure that you can spend every minute of your spare time in your personal oasis of wellbeing. You can chat to plot holders and start to get a sense of whether this is the place for you. If you are interested to find out more, then feel free to contact the committee directly. In many cases, the city and district associations keep lists of vacant plots among their member gardening societies. You will find the contact information on our website.
Joining a garden association – tending your garden in a community
So once you have found an allotment garden that you like, what happens next? The gardening society committee will conclude a lease agreement with you to enable you to take over the garden plot and become a member of the society. Now you are free to give form to your garden just as you wish, in accordance with the stipulations of the society; you can grow fruit and vegetables for your own consumption, arrange some comfortable garden chairs, and enjoy your time in your own naturally tended garden in harmony with the environment.
You can work on your plot as much as you like and enjoy your refuge from everyday life together with your family and friends, while the society takes care of all other matters relating to the gardens and allotments. Of course, the work that the society does requires funding. To cover your contribution, you will pay an annual rent for your plot and possibly also a share of the rent for the communal areas. You should also expect to pay membership fees to the society as well as insurance premiums and consumption costs. Being part of a gardening society, tending your garden and looking after the shared spaces creates a sense of community, not to mention great satisfaction. You always have someone you can go to for advice, for instance, if you need any gardening tips, support in ensuring maximum plant health, or if you wish to discuss gardening in harmony with nature or any other matters concerning your garden.
A community also means having an active life within the gardening society. You can organise activities like a plant swap day or a flea market or even work on the committee yourself. Every gardening society offers activities to promote the enjoyment of communal gardening – so feel free to join in!
Who does my garden belong to? Information about the leasing relationship
As a member of a gardening society, you can rely on the rent price maintenance provided for by the Federal Law on Small Gardens. The plot owners, in most cases the local authorities, may only charge up to a certain amount above the rent levels for plots used for commercial gardening and agriculture. Moreover, no time limit for the lease is provided for in the law.
Permitted building facilities on the plot and any existing plants are handed over to you as the new leaseholder. These can include a simple pergola or arbour, a compost container, a rainwater barrel, and fruit trees and shrubs. The plot value is determined by the society by means of a valuation certificate based on the prices of simple types. This keeps the takeover prices as low as possible and enables newcomers to take on a small garden without having to cope with any significant financial hurdles.
So, would you like to lease a small garden or find more information about gardens near you? Then we are here to advise you on how to acquire your own refuge of wellbeing by joining your local gardening society.