Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Denmark's New Law About Community Gardens

The law was approved on June 1, 2001.
With passing of the law it's worth noting that:

Permanent Vs Temporary Gardens:

All gardens that are on soil owned by the government (except for gardens owned by the church) have - after the approval of the law become permanent gardens - while other 'lessors' (= udlejere) have the option of declaring their gardens "non permanent gardens"; This must take place before Nov 01/2001.

According to the new law: if the owner (= lessor?) of a garden community wishes to give it up, he must give the garden lessees (= brugerne) at least four week's written notice, before he advises the Ministry of the Environment that the area will no longer be a "permanent" community garden area. The (kommunalbestyrelsen) then has to publicize the suggestion leaving at least four weeks for (indsigelser).

It is, therefore, important that you are well aware what your (kommune) will be up to regarding local community garden areas.

Notes Regarding the New Law:

One thing is for sure: The passing of the law is a very major milestone for our Colony Gardens. We have asked various parties involved to give us their view of the new law:

Denmark's First Colony Garden Law

by Svend Auken, Minister for the Environment

Many Colony Garden owners have - sadly - realized that as long as no one has any interest in a piece of land they are welcome... However, as soon as a financial gain is in sight the gardens become (fredloese). This is due to the fact that the gardens are typically situated on land temporarily "left over", and instead of just leaving the soil unused we have had a tradition of utilizing it creating e.g. Colony Gardens.

The Law To Avoid Closure Of The Colony Gardens

To avoid the sad situation whereby the gardens are simply closed down I brought forward a suggestion re a law for the protection of Colony Gardens. This law was passed in June by the Folketing. Denmark's first Colony Garden law. The law removes the possibility of garden closure (nedlaeggelse), a threat that has been a reality for garden owners for years. The law ensures that the Danish Colony Gardens will remain precious green oases in the middle of our towns. All parties - except the conservatives - voted for the passing of the law.

The new law clarifies the future of the gardens: All garden areas owned by the Government will become permanent. If a garden is located on private or communal property the owner must - before Nov 01/2001 - advise the Ministry of the Environment if the garden is not a "permanent garden". These gardens cannot be closed down (nedlagt). Only in very particular circumstances may we consider closing down a garden area. If this happens a new area must be put at the disposal of that particular garden society . In this way the law makes it the exception that the gardens can be closed down. This is contrary to the previous law where many (kolonister) were only able to lease for a very short period at a time.

The (kommuner) own many of the Danish colony gardens - 40,000 of the app 62,000 gardens are on communal soil. Now a big responsibility is on the shoulders of the (kommunalbestyrelse) around the country. This is due to the fact that they will be the ones ensuring that most gardens become permanent, ensuring peace of mind for the kolonists.

I am faithful that the local politicians will live up to this new responsibility. And I believe it will be an exception that a (kommune) (indmelder) a colony garden society is non- permanent.

(Kolonister)'s Right To Purchase

The new law now gives the (kolonister) the (foerstekoebsret) if their garden is located on privately owned land, and is announced as non permanent. Same goes for the gardens in areas owned by the DSB (Danish Railways).

Colony Gardeners

Colony Garden Areas Opened Up To The Public

We need green oasis (fristed) in our towns. Now we will have access to more of them. This is due to the fact that the new law ensures that all permanent Colony Garden areas will be open to the public. This will happen as the prevailing local rules and/or contracts can be changed. Not because we are 'gonna start stomping across lawns, perennials or beds of radishes', but simply to make it possible for the public to stroll through one of the quaint Colony Garden areas in town.

Enjoy the special atmosphere that exists there, and the many small picturesque houses and gardens. Each and every detail shows the love the (kolonister) put into their gardens, year after years.

Danish colony gardens are so very valuable. Therefore, it has been a genuine pleasure for me that we have a law that protects the gardens. Not just for the (kolonister), but for all us Danes that appreciate the gardens as a huge quality in every day life.

The Danish Federation of Leisure and Allotment Gardens
"Denmark is the country with the most leisure and allotment gardeners of all countries compared to their populations. The tradition for this type of gardening dates back to the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the aim of the leisure and allotment gardeners was to secure better conditions for the working people and in 1884 the first association of leisure and allotment owners was founded. In 1908 several of the associations of leisure and allotment owners joined in Kolonihaveforbundet for Denmark (The Danish Federation of Leisure and Allotment Gardeners). In the year 2000 Kolonihaveforbundet for Denmark consisted of 409 associations with a total of more than 40,000 leisure and allotment garden owners."

Allotment Guide - Copenhagen & Surroundings
by Niels Jensen 1996
1000 printed in English
2000 with the Danish Title: Kolonihave Guide Kobenhavn & Omegn
This excellent little book, full of colour photos, describes the gardens in and around Copenhagen.
Cost: DKK 50 plus DKK 36 to cover postage.
Write to: Niels Jensen
De Frie Fugle
Borgergade, 14, S
DK - 1300 Copenhagen

The History of The Allotment Gardens in Copenhagen

"The allotment garden movement peaked during the Second World War with lOO,OOO gardens. After the war prosperity increased and the allotment gardens flourished. In the l960's however, when a private car became within reach for some people in Copenhagen, one just had to have a summer house, preferably on the North Coast about lOO kilomet- res away." Posted November 22, 2001

Alice's Colony Garden in Holbaek, Denmark
"In my case I have ended up with a true jewel. The house is like a very tiny cottage, has a bedroom, dining room with table and chairs, a weeny kitchen with gas cooking-plates, and a sink."

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Revised December 3, 2001

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture