Thinking about getting an allotment? They’re a great boost to the local environment, and have proven physical and mental health benefits too. In this blog, we explain the benefits of allotment growing and how you can get your own plot.
What even is an allotment?
An allotment is an area of land used for growing non-commercial fruit and vegetables, and sometimes keeping livestock too. Land can be leased from a private landlord or your local authority.
Why should I get an allotment?
1. It's good for you
It’s been scientifically proven that allotment growing is good for you. Gardening in general is a fantastic stress-reliever, it helps you to keep fit and active, and being outside provides you with a dose of vital Vitamin D (just remember to cover up and wear sun cream on exposed areas).
Allotment growing offers up the opportunity to learn new skills too, and helps you get closer to all four seasons and how our ecosystem works.
2. You’ll eat well
Nothing tastes quite as good as something you’ve grown yourself and plucked from the ground just that day. If managed properly, you can expect to have fresh, local and seasonal fruit and vegetables all year round. No need to buy supermarket produce wrapped in plastic.
And if you choose to garden organically, you can avoid the nasty chemicals often found on shop-bought produce too.
3. You’ll be part of a community
When you lease an allotment you’re joining a community of like-minded people. As well as the exercise and delicious homegrown produce, allotments can help you build a brand new friendship group too. With reports suggesting that loneliness carries the equivalent health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, being part of a community can actually be good for your health as well as a lot of fun.
4. It helps local wildlife
Allotments aren’t just great for growing food — they play a vital role in supporting wildlife in urban areas too. Support your local ecosystem by avoiding pesticides, using peat-free compost and building habitats to encourage wildlife.
5. It's not all about growing fruit and veg
If you have the right permission, you can keep hens, rabbits and even goats on your allotment. A happy and well-fed hen can lay up to 250 eggs a year!
6. It’s the bee's knees
Following on nicely from livestock, bees also make a good addition to an allotment, assuming you have the right experience and knowledge and check with your landlord first. Bees play a critical role in pollination, so expect bumper crops if you have them close by.
Not ready to keep bees? You can still encourage bees to your plot by growing bee-friendly plants, like lavender, fox gloves and alliums.
How can I get an allotment?
Getting an allotment can take a bit of perseverance as wait lists are often long. First, try your local authority — you can search for an allotment and the contact details of town and parish councils here.
Some allotment sites are provided by private landlords too. Find your local allotment society online to see if any plots are available. The National Allotment Society has plenty of information on securing a plot.
Once you find a plot, you’ll need to sign a tenancy agreement and pay rent. Rents tend to be in the region of £25 to £125 a year.
Allotments have many benefits, but before deciding to get your own plot it’s important to think about how much time you’ll be able to give to its upkeep. You’ll need to be ready to get your hands dirty, water regularly and keep on top of pests, whatever the weather.
For more information on allotment growing visit the National Allotment Society.