Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Village Green/ Village Pond/ Gadekær

Open Air Museum, Hjerl Hede, Jutland

In England a Village Green is usually a common open area which is a part of the settlement. In Denmark the village green is not a green area, but a pond, the Danish name is gadekær. Once every village in Denmark had a gadekær - still most villages have one, and the interest for re-creating the pond as it once were in the good old days is growing.

Elsegårde gadekær near Ebeltoft, Mols, Jutland

Maybe the village pond was the earliest grounds of the village and the very first starting point from its birth. It was a common property and a part of the soul of the village. Through many centuries the village pond was important for the social life. It was a stamping ground. The blacksmith cooled his work there; vessels and barrels were put into water to become denser; the farmers washed their tools and wagon wheels, and the horses and cattle were watered; the children played by the village pond - and last but not least it was a water tank in case of fire.

Elsegårde gadekær, Mols, Jutland

When the farming grew mechanized the village pond was now only a water tank/fire pond. The broad flat banks of the old pond meant that it occupied a lot of space, but now it was changed into a deepened and smaller basin, from which it was easier to pump up water. In some villages the village pond later disappeared and in other villages it was neglected, but now there is a growing interest for re-creating a gadekær as it looked in the good old days.

Elsegårde gadekær, Mols, Jutland, Yellow Iris

A gadekær is usually protected area. It has a recreative importance for the community, but also a considerable nature function. The restored pond has to be as close to nature as possible. It is not allowed to set out fish in those small closed lakes/ponds, since this causes a uniform and poor flora and fauna. In some place in Denmark people set out Chinese grass carps in their village pond which was a complete mistake.

Elsegårde gadekær, Mols, Jutland

It is not indifferent which plants and fish are put out in a village pond. Besides being careful as to fish it is also necessary not to make the pond a feeding place for ducks. It is important to let the natural fauna and flora appear of itself. The surroundings have to be open to the south and to the west to give place for the sun. It is about obtaining clean clear water - and maybe also create a little place for people with tables and benches.

In a large lake-like village pond fish and ducks can live without causing a too heavy impact to the water quality .

Estruplund gadekær, East Jutland

photo 2004/2008: grethe bachmann


Wanda..... said...

We have a river through our community that was declared a scenic river...after years of cleaning up neglected areas. Clean water is so important to all of us. Your photos are lovely, Grethe! What are the little houses in the ponds? Are they nesting boxes or something else? Everything looks so natural and clean!

Thyra said...

Hello Wanda! It sounds good with your river. Maybe you'll take one of your great photo-walks there one day? I don't know if the little houses in the ponds are for decoration. I have never seen any bird using them!! Maybe the house on the first photo from the Open Air Museum is the most authentic. But I'll remember next time we pass a village pond to look out for those nesting boxes. I guess they are very varied. (Teresa Evangelina had recently a post with photos of some fantastic various nesting boxes in gardens in her neighbourhood).Cheers Grethe.

Wanda..... said...

Maybe this fall I will photograph the river!

swamericana said...

That last photograph of Estruplund gadekaer is beautiful. Just beautiful. Cheers to you!