Pontypridd, Wales - July 2020: Crops in a productive allotment garden near Pontypridd.

Having access to a space for growing produce can provide tremendous value to would-be gardeners. It might be that you lack a garden attached to your residence, or it might be that the space isn’t suited to your purposes.

A solution comes in the form of an allotment.

What is an allotment?

An allotment is a very small plot of land, rented from a landowner. Invariably, there’s a large green space that’s divided into smaller chunks, each of which is rented to a different person.

This creates a vibrant social space, as well as a functional gardening one. You’ll invariably encounter other gardeners as you visit your plot. This means you’ll pick up tips, get support, and have the scope to stop for a chat where you want one.

Uses for an Allotment

Allotments are used very differently from private gardens or larger-scale farms. Your time spent at your allotment will be entirely used to work on it, which means fewer decorative elements. You’ll be establishing particular vegetables and fruits, so that you can take them back home for use in your own kitchen. Tomato plants are a favourite, because they are fairly resilient, and versatile, too.

How to Get One

The modern allotment system has roots that go back to the Victorian era. Today, the system for actually acquiring an allotment is slightly different from how it was then.

Allotments come in three types.

There are statutory allotments, which are owned by the council and protected from outside purchase.

Then, there are temporary allotments, which, as the name might suggest, are designed to be used for a particular period of time. Though they’re owned by local government, they don’t enjoy the same legal protections as statutory allotments, and can be sold.

Finally, there are allotments on privately owned land. Anyone who owns land can set up a system for allotments on it – but these allotments are entirely under the control of the landowner in question.

Applying for an allotment means getting in touch with the landowner. If that’s the council, you can apply online. If there are no available allotments, then you might club together with local taxpayers to create a system of allotments yourselves. Local authorities are legally bound to consider requests of this kind.

We should be prepared to face a long wait. Research in 2019 revealed that 90,000 people were waiting for their allotment – but then the arrival of lockdown caused an enormous boom in applications. Some councils are able to offer an allotment within six months of an application; others will make you wait for eighteen months. The cost can vary considerably, too – in some cases, it can be negligible; in others, it can be more than £100 per year. Consider the variables before putting your name down!

 

Image: Pontypridd, Wales – July 2020: Crops in a productive allotment garden near Pontypridd, photo by Ceri Breeze