Sunday, April 22, 2007

Definition of an allotment

PS added!

In the UK, gardens are small in general. Very small. There are, after all, 50 million people on this small island! Allotments have been around for about 200 years, but really evolved in the 19th Century, when the growth of industrial development led to so many people moving into high density housing in the cities, with no gardens, to work in factories, and the resulting poverty was what spurred on the growth of allotments. In urban areas, you will find allotment areas set aside, and people can rent one for a very small amount of money annually, to grow things. Most use them for vegetable gardening, and it is a social as well as horticultural enterprise. Most are owned by local councils, who rent them out, and waiting lists are very long. Ours is a private allotment association, which is great, as the council ones seem to be increasingly sold off for housing development. This is a real pity.

Geoff had grown up helping his father on their allotment. The 2 World Wars saw a huge growth in the need for people to produce food, and "Dig for Victory" was a slogan at the time. He always wanted one, and while recuperating from his heart op last year, I heard from a friend, who runs one of the two local allotment areas, that there was one vacant. Geoff leapt at the chance to start, and I thought it was excellent therapy and exercise for him, and so that was how it began.If you click on the allotment tag at the end of the post, you will see what it looked like when he started last year!

In a sense it is like a community garden. You all have your own area, and most have some sheds on them too to keep equipment. We have keys to the allotment gates, and it is not open to the public to wander in. Ours is a full size allotment and absolutely huge. I can't remember the measurements, but I quaked when I first saw it and the weeds. I think about 20ft x 160ft. But I could be wildly inaccurate. BIG.

David used to go and help, and when his Dad died, he asked if we could keep the allotment on. So it is still called Geoff's allotment, and all our friends came to help to dig and get it going. They are amazing. Because it is so big, some of them are also growing things on it, and that means that we will share our produce, and also that there will always be someone about to water. It is 5 mins drive from our house.

Some people make theirs into an orchard, some grow flowers, some have chickens. There is always someone around to ask for advice, and there is space for the babes to play too. We will get a bench and have it in the shade one day. We may have BBQs. But we WILL have plenty of vegetables!

Just in case you thought I didn't HAVE a garden at home, I do! But it is full of flowers and shrubs, and raised beds and patios. Not big, but I absolutely love it cascading all over the place, and there is just no more room to grow stuff like vegetables, and as I am in my frugal phase, the allotment is great. I have a zillion photos of my garden at home. I might post a few from last year. Hanging baskets and tubs and all.


Penless Thoughts said...

This was interesting to read and enjoyed your pictures of it. I think we use to have "Victory Gardens" here in the U.S. during WWII but that is just a faint memory I've heard of. We have a HUGE garden that my husband plants in our back yard. His is 40' x 35' and then he also have 2 square foot garden boxes 4'x4'. Lots of good eatting. He enjoys the outdoor and doing this but it's a LOT of work. Especially when you have to water it all in our VERY HOT and dry Tulsa summers. May you and yours grow well.

Susie said...

Hi Linds,
I enjoyed reading this description of your allotment. What a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and/or neighbors! It's an idea that more cities should adopt.
We have raised beds for our veggies, as well as containers made from wine barrels (quite common here in wine country)
Bill has made a sign that says "victory gardens" that he remembered seeing in his childhood.
(it was an old sign then!!)

Morning Glory said...

What a marvelous idea! Thanks for explaining it in detail. I suspected it was something like that, but I didn't know how it all worked together with the neighbors.

We used to have a nice vegetable garden in our back yard many years ago, but I don't do it anymore. I love the community aspect of your allotment.

Diana Langdon said...

62 million mother darling, don't forget that important 12 million! Looking forward to eating some of the veggies one day xxx

Barb said...

How interesting this is, Linds. I agree with you - this allotment looks huge to me. I've had big gardens like that in the past and my word, they're a lot of work. But they're worth it - you can't buy vegetables in the grocery store that even compare to the ones you've grown yourself.