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Why 6 acres of land were allocated for summer cottages in the USSR: how it was calculated

Yulia PoteriankoNews
In the USSR, land plots were distributed to prevent citizens from starving to death, but no more than that. Source: Created with the help of AI

Those who lived in the USSR remember how people used to refer to their vegetable garden as "my 6 acres". The state did indeed allocate a plot of 600 square meters to those who wanted it. But why so much?

As OBOZ.UA found out, there were several reasons for this. And Soviet officials could quite reasonably justify such a rule.

The contribution of scientist Vitaly Edelstein

Vitaly Edelstein was a Soviet vegetable scientist. Since 1916, he worked at the Moscow Agricultural Institute, helped to open a garden station there, and participated in the creation of a research institute for vegetable growing. In 1944, he summarized his experience in the book Individual Garden. The manual contained calculations of which crops were best grown by each individual on a designated plot and in what quantity.

In particular, Edelstein calculated that one person needed 500.7 kg of vegetables per year. According to his calculations, 124.5 square meters of land were needed to grow this amount. The average Soviet family consisted of 3.9-4.3 people. Multiplying the calculated area by this coefficient and adding a little space for growing fruit trees, the scientist calculated that 6 acres would be enough for each family to have a personal garden.

Taking into account the scientist's recommendations, in 1949 the Soviet government adopted a decree that allocated plots of agricultural land of exactly 600 square meters to citizens. This norm remained relevant until the collapse of the USSR.

Fighting hunger and private business

The size of an individual plot of land for each family remained unchanged for decades also because private enterprise was considered a crime in the Soviet Union. At the same time, the authorities feared that citizens, having received more space to grow vegetables, would start selling their surplus. Therefore, land allocation was limited to such small plots.

The purpose of the state-allocated vegetable garden was to support the livelihood of an individual family and no more. Despite the developed agriculture in the USSR, the situation with fresh vegetables and fruits out of season was catastrophic – they were almost impossible to get. There was even a threat of starvation. As we can see from the calculations, 6 acres could provide people with a minimum of home-grown products.

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