Since the lock down of the nation due to Covid-19, there’s been lots reported in the press about the increase of applications for allotment plots and of people starting to grow their own vegetables in their gardens. Michael Gove announced soon after lockdown that visiting allotments would be allowed as “allocated exercise” as long as social distancing was maintained. With initial concerns about social isolation and potential food shortages, it’s easy to see why allotmenteering and growing your own food was attractive. This made me think back to when and why we got our allotment plot.
My parents had an allotment when I was a child. I loved it and can still remember picking and eating rhubarb on the plot. I wanted my own children to have the opportunity of experiencing childhood on an allotment. I suppose I had thought “One day, when I retire…” but why wait until retirement? In 2017, a friend at work was the final push. She was working full time had two young children and still managed to keep an allotment. She would tell me about how her children had helped her to pick the vegetables for their evening meal and ate strawberries straight from the plant. I was sold.
I started to investigate how to get my hands on a plot. Allotments in England are generally owned and run by the local authority, parish council or by private owners. The allotments within my geographical patch are owned by the council. I set up an online account and I found out quite quickly that there were 20+ people ahead of me on the waiting list and that I was to expect to wait for over a year until I got offered a plot. A year! I’m aware that for some areas of the country the list can be over 10 years. However, I knew that there were vacant plots on the allotment site that I wanted. I found that a local charity had researched all of the allotments within the district and that the vacant plots on my allotment were not currently being offered due to them being overgrown and not having a secured boundary with fencing.
I emailed the council asking if I was willing to clear the land myself and put up a fence, would they allow me to become a tenant. They emailed back and said yes. Result! I arranged a time to meet the head of parks and estates who brought his tape measure and said “How much land would you like”. We had a look at the land. It was slightly sloping but had full sun. The soil appeared dark and crumbly. There was a variety of weeds both annual and perennial but nothing too concerning. I felt so excited and decided to take a double plot which equates to approximately 20m x 25m. I thought that this would give me plenty of space to play with. I was willing to work hard and was looking forward to planning out my plot. In September 2017 I got my key and was free to get cracking clearing the plot. I think that is where I will leave it. Next post I will tell you about how we cleared the plot and prepared the ground.
All the best T x