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For several years now, David Skat Nielsen has been cultivating a 7,400-square-foot patch of land on the island of Amager, in the greater Copenhagen area. Here, he pays 900 DKK ($133 USD) per month to get away from the stresses of apartment living, plant some fruit trees, build a greenhouse, and generally bask in the stillness of a hedged-in green space. Due to zoning restrictions, he can only live on the property for six months of the year, but he’s part of a growing group of Danes that would like to make these minimalistic garden lots into full-time homes.
Danish kolonihaver, or “colony gardens,” like Nielsen’s are communal groupings of leisure lots—each complete with a little cabin—that are peppered around the urban and periurban corners of the country. They’re similar to allotment gardens, multi-year land rentals in a dedicated area, leased for the express purpose of gardening. Whereas community gardens often traffic in raised beds full of annuals, colony gardens are spaces in which fruit trees, perennials, and hard landscaping installations are more the norm.