Town-Tuin

In Dutch, the word for garden is tuin. I had a suspicion that tuin was etymologically related to the English word town.

With a little research, I discovered that town comes from the Old English tun: an “enclosure, garden, field, yard; farm, manor; homestead, dwelling house, mansion”, which later referred to a “group of houses, village, farm”. Town, does indeed have the same proto-Germanic origins as its Dutch counterpart.

Dutch cities are surrounded by tuins – extensive allotment gardens that range from the simple to the elaborate. Passing through the country on a train, it’s common to see structures of every shape and complexity, “garden sheds”, populating the tuins quite densely. The tuins on the outskirts are their own sorts of towns – each with its own culture, but each neatly organized around a microcosm of canals and roadways.  

It’s certainly a nice thought, that town and garden have the same etymological roots. Perhaps this thought can inspire/invigorate contemporary efforts of biomimicry, and the use of permaculture principles in urban planning.

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