Urban allotment gardens (AGs) provide a unique combination of productive and recreational spaces for the inhabitants of European cities. Although the reasons behind the decision to have a plot, as well as the mode of use and gardening practices, are well recognised in the literature, these issues are mainly considered in relation to particular case studies within a single country. The regional diversity of European allotment gardens is still poorly understood, however. This knowledge gap became an incentive for us to carry out the present study. The research was conducted in seven countries: Austria, Estonia, Germany, France, Portugal, Poland and the UK. Surveys were used to assess the motivations of users regarding plot uses and gardening practices. Information was also collected during desk research and study visits, making use of available statistical data. Allotment gardens in Europe are currently very diverse, and vary depending on the historical, legal, economic and social conditions of a given country, and also as determined by geographical location. Three main types of plots were distinguished, for: cultivation, recreation–cultivation, and cultivation–recreation. The recreational use of AGs has replaced their use for food production in countries with a long history of urban gardening. The only exception is the UK. In some countries, the production of food on an AG plot is still its main function; however, the motivations for this are related to better quality and taste (the UK), as well as the economic benefits of self-grown fruits and vegetables (Portugal, Estonia). Among the wide range of motivations for urban gardening in Europe, there is increasing emphasis on active recreation, contact with nature and quality food supply.
- allotment gardening
- functions of allotment gardens
- use of plot
- food production