Community gardens

Community gardens are gardens that are collectively run by a group of people, most of whom have no professional background in gardening. Community gardens are often located in city centers and in fallow areas. In addition to gardening activities, the focus is on the community and on helping to shape the own district. The concepts are very versatile. For example some gardens have certain target groups such as elderly people, children or people with a migration background. This is why there are many terms, depending on the focus of the garden, such as neighborhood garden, intercultural gardens, community gardens and so on. Rented gardens have a similar concept, except the gardeners rent land from commercial actors. Community gardens are mostly supplied with public land or rent land from public authorities. Also social aspects tend to play a secondary role in rental gardens; food growing is the main concern.

Aim and innovation

By growing their own food - normally for their personal use - gardeners become more independent from the global food markets. Besides, gaining and sharing knowledge particularly on production methods such as organic farming, but also on food processing are key. Community gardens do also pursue social targets, such as finding new forms of urban community life.

The collective cooperation and the fact that citizens participate in their own food production are innovative. Community gardens often also cause the transfer of food production to inner-cities which enables a radically local production. Since fallow land is often used, areas for food production are creatively expanded and rethought.


Internationale Gärten e.V. Göttingen, Prinzessinnengarten (Berlin), Gemeinschaftsgarten Chieming, Meine Ernte, Ackerhelden, Münchner Krautgärten


Production (user practices, knowledge), dissemination (knowledge)


Citizens, associations, private companies (particularly in rented gardens); in the role of provisioning areas also cities, communes, churches, foundations, farms.

Development and dynamics

There are community gardens all over Germany today. Especially since the turn of the millennium the number increased considerably: There were more than 600 gardens in the network of intercultural gardens alone. Community gardens without an explicitly intercultural approach have to be added to this. There were 19 suppliers with 149 locations for rented gardens all over Germany in spring 2018.

On the one hand there are constraints in the collaboration with public authorities that often underestimate the potential of gardens and legal regulations make foundations difficult. On the other hand, long-term access to suitable areas is a problem. Community gardens, particularly in inner-cities, are threatened to lose their areas and are competing with other uses. Finally, there is also a lack of financial resources to pay rent, for example.

Sustainability potential


  • Biodiversity
  • Climate (indirect)   
  • Resource efficiency in production and consumption (indirect)
  • Promotion of regional, closed nutrient circles


  • Increase of food security (indirect)


  • Health: Access to healthy food
  • Participation
  • Awareness/ education on sustainable nutrition

Risks / disadvantages

The advantage of expanding habitats for flora and fauna could be reduced or negated through potential usages of pesticides. Therefore, gardening practices of community and rented gardens should be regulated by association bylaws, booster clubs, and their governing bodies.


Community gardens are gardens that are collectively run by a group of people, most of whom have no professional background in gardening. In rented gardens commercial actors rent out areas to gardeners (individually). The collaborative cooperation is especially innovative. The niche has expanded in Germany considerably in the last few years. The sustainability potential is to be seen particularly in social aspects, such as the support of participation and awareness, and also in ecological aspects, such as the support of biodiversity and soil protection via the education and application of adapted technologies and practices.

[1] Madlener, N. (2018): Was sind Gemeinschaftsgärten? Web, 02.06.2018. gartenpolylog.org/de/gartenpolylog-gemeinschaftsgarten/was-sind-gemeinschaftsgarten;
Bütikofer, B. (2012): Urbane Gemeinschaftsgärten als Keimzellen sozialer Netzwerke. Studie zu Sozialkapital und sozialen Netzwerken am Beispiel von ausgewählten Berliner Gemeinschaftsgärten. Masterarbeit, S. 82. Web, 08.06.2018. anstiftung.de/jdownloads/forschungsarbeiten_urbane_gaerten/urb_gemeinsch_g.pdf

[2] Madlener (2018)

[3] Wiesholler (2018): Wozu – Weshalb – Warum. Web, 02.06.2018. gemeinschaftsgarten.net; Bütikofer (2012), S. 82.

[4] Madlener (2018)

[5] Ebd.; Internationale Gärten e. V. Göttingen (2019): Verein. Web, 02.06.2018- internationale-gaerten.de

[6] Internationale Gärten e.V. Göttingen (2018)

[7] Geeck, S. (2018): Mietgarten Anbieter. Web, 02.06.2018. grüneliebe.de/rund-um-den-garten/mietgarten-anbieter/

[8] Hirtmann, C. (2011): Analyse und Untersuchung aktueller Probleme von Gemeinschaftsgärten in Berlin unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Planungs- und Nutzungsrechten und Entwicklung von Handlungsempfehlungen. Masterarbeit, S. 98. Web, 02.06.2018. anstiftung.de/jdownloads/forschungsarbeiten_urbane_gaerten/masterarbeit_hirtmann.pdf;
Bütikofer (2012), S. 104, 113.

[9] Bütikofer (2012), S. 91-92, 114.

[10] Bütikofer (2012), S. 114.