The joy of allotments!

February 14, 2018 8:22 am Published by Leave your thoughts

In the UK, we love allotments! Somewhere in the region of 300,000 people currently have one, and in many areas there’s a waiting list so extensive that you (almost) need to have your name put down at birth. In other areas, however, you won’t have to wait long before pulling on your wellies and starting to dig – and if you can’t get hold of an allotment officially, you might be able to persuade someone with a large and unkempt garden to let you have a go at transforming that instead. Or, you could join in with a community allotment (or even take part in some guerrilla gardening).  But why should you do it? What’s so great about allotments?

Are you one of the 300,000 people with allotments in the UK?

So, what’s so great about allotments?

Why do we love allotments?

An ‘allotment’ is a plot of land ‘made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing food plants’. They tend to be placed in groups together, on land that’s suitable for growing, but not used for other purposes. You’ll often see them lining the side of railways or rivers, or on the outskirts of towns. Dotted with tumbledown sheds, makeshift water-butts and plants of all kinds, they’re little havens of growth and calm, in the middle of a busy world.

Allotments appeal to people for many reasons. They’re a great, cheap way to grow your own fruit and vegetables. They’re a good hobby: you have to tend them regularly, putting in a lot of work to keep the soil healthy and the weeds under control (and thus provide good exercise: all that digging and hoe-ing is a perfect workout)! Allotments tend to promote the perfect mix of sociability and solitary pursuit: you’ll have plenty of chats with other allotment-holders (the source of the greatest wisdom, of course), but can equally spend an hour or so quietly thinking your own thoughts, as you turn over the ground. Originally, allotments were introduced by Victorian philanthropists as a way of keeping the industrial classes healthy and better-fed. They’re just as relevant today, in a world of economic pressure, hectic lifestyles and tricky diets.

Allotments are good for the body and soul.

A good workout, a healthy diet and a chance to socialise!

With the new ‘ten-a-day’ target of fruit and vegetables, there’s nothing quite like watching one of your very own seeds grow into something splendidly edible – though you do have to be prepared to put in some hard graft and to accept both the gluts and the failures. (As one allotment-holder puts it: never, never believe the pictures on the seed packets.)

Tempted? How to take part!

To get a standard allotment, your first move is usually to contact your local council (try this link). They can inform you which particular authority (parish, town, borough, city or district) has allotments, and can deal with allocations or add your name to a waiting list.

There are also private allotment groups and allotments owned by bodies such as the Church of England and the National Trust. Try this website for help with tracking down private allotments: https://www.nsalg.org.uk/allotment-info/how-to-get-an-allotment/.

If you fear that you might not have the energy or time to manage your very own allotment, why not join in with, or help set up, a community allotment? These allow groups of local residents to plan and manage a site. The produce grown is shared out (or sometimes sold), often at communal suppers and events.

Urban guerrillas?

A few desperate would-be-allotment-holders have simply developed their own allotment sites on abandoned and unkempt land, improving and maintaining this. While legally they’re on shaky ground, it would appear that once you’ve got the urge to dig, hoe, sow and grow, it’s almost impossible to resist!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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