The Power of the Many - The Fight for Allotment Gardens in Basel, Switzerland

Nicola Thomas, Patrick Oehler, Matthias Drilling


Allotment gardens in the Swiss city Basel are currently undergoing significant transformations: new, younger and more affluent users are discovering the gardens and changing the culture and community from within, while at the same time, the public administration is recognizing the profit potential of using the garden sites as land for new housing constructions and public parks.

Plans published in 2009 by the local authority to close down three garden sites to make way for housing constructions were fiercely opposed by a coalition of heterogeneous actors, with key drivers in the protest movement being the local allotment garden associations.

This paper analyses the role the allotment garden associations in Basel played in the protest movement and describes how the organization structure of the associations enabled the interests of threatened allotment gardeners to be powerfully represented.

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