How to get an al­lot­ment and not lose the plot

As Na­tional Al­lot­ments Week ap­proaches, the Na­tional Al­lot­ment So­ci­ety of­fers ad­vice on how to get a plot and what you need to think about

Kent Messenger Maidstone - West Kent Property - - OUTDOORS -

Al­lot­ments have long been the must-haves of the eco-con­scious, health-aware gen­er­a­tion keen to get back to na­ture and grow their own food. To mark up­com­ing Na­tional Al­lot­ments Week, al­lot­ment groups across the UK will be open­ing their gates and hold­ing bar­be­cues, plant and pro­duce sales, al­lot­ment tours, com­pe­ti­tions and ex­hi­bi­tions, cof­fee morn­ings and af­ter­noon teas - many of them rais­ing funds to sup­port lo­cal char­i­ties.

Why are al­lot­ments so pop­u­lar?

“There’s a lot of in­ter­est in food, and a grow­ing aware­ness of chil­dren not know­ing where their food comes from other than the su­per­mar­ket, so I think fam­i­lies see get­ting an al­lot­ment as a way of rem­e­dy­ing that. It’s also a fan­tas­tic way of get­ting out­side and do­ing some­thing to­gether,” ex­plains Di Ap­p­le­yard of the Na­tional Al­lot­ment So­ci­ety. Coun­cils are still in­creas­ing their al­lot­ment pro­vi­sion - but how easy is it to se­cure a plot?

Where you live mat­ters

“Wait­ing lists vary a great deal across the UK or even across a city, and whether you are pre­pared to travel or clear an over­grown plot,” Di says. “Put your name on the wait­ing list at your lo­cal coun­cil. There are mas­sive wait­ing lists in some ar­eas, but in oth­ers you only wait a few months. The site I’m on in is very pop­u­lar and has a four-year wait­ing list, but if you are pre­pared to travel a mile down the road, you could get there to­mor­row.” Al­ter­na­tively, peo­ple can look for a pri­vate site on the in­ter­net – but they are harder to find. If a site you are aware of is not on the coun­cil list, go to the site it­self and speak to the peo­ple there, who are of­ten there at week­ends. Find out owner and web­site de­tails.

Think about what you’re tak­ing on

“It’s rare that you’ll get a choice of plots as you will be of­fered the next plot that comes free, but it’s im­por­tant to think about how much spare time you have and your level of skill. For ex­am­ple, a novice gar­dener work­ing full time may well strug­gle with a full-size plot (250 square me­tres),” she says. “That’s a lot of space for some­body work­ing full time.” Some­times you may have a choice, es­pe­cially if a plotholder has been asked to leave. But this will mean you’re stuck with an al­lot­ment which will need a lot of TLC. Most coun­cils of­fer half plots.

Fa­cil­i­ties avail­able

The only obli­ga­tion the coun­cil has is to sup­ply a piece of land. How­ever, most pro­vide wa­ter from a dip­ping trough rather than a stand­pipe. Sheds are mainly down to the in­di­vid­ual and some sites don’t al­low sheds. Many plot-hold­ers use half-size plas­tic sheds to house their tools. More sites, par­tic­u­larly those man­aged by an as­so­ci­a­tion which can fundraise, are get­ting toi­lets.

Pic­ture: PA Photo/think­stock­pho­tos

Hav­ing an al­lot­ment is some­thing the whole fam­ily can en­joy

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