When this blogger was a kid growing up in 1950s and 1960s Britain many local people had an allotment. Living in an area of town that had small houses with little if any garden space and more than our fair share of bomb sites, green areas were but a dream. Bomb sites where great places for kids to play on but not much use other than that. These days perhaps the waste land would be utilised more quickly but back then with so much rebuilding needing to be done they were just left as waste ground.
Anyway so many people had an allotment why bother with waste ground?
But perhaps you have no idea what an allotment is. Well let me enlighten you.
An allotment is a piece of land that you rent from the local council. The purpose is so that you can grow produce, plants and flowers on it. For those with no garden space at home an allotment could be ideal.
These days allotments still exist but can be hard to come by. Your council may have a waiting list. Another sign of the times is that these days your produce may get stolen or vandalised. When I was a kid this did not happen except for the odd cheeky kid who may play a prank. Security fences and locked gates now offer some protection.
Each area may have a dozen or so allotments on it. This means that friendships soon follow. Of course the reverse can happen also. On the whole though allotment growers are generally very sociable.
There are usually some rules and regulations about what you can put on your allotments. These rules are not usually anything too bad.
Most people add a shed to their allotment. Some of these are basic and just offer a potting shed and somewhere to make a drink. However, some are a home from home. Bits and bobs of furniture from around the home may be snatched in order to furnish the allotment shed.
At one time it could be the man of the houses' respite away from the wife and kids. These days though couples and whole families may run the allotment.
In general each allotment is about 10 rods in size. This is an ancient measurement equivalent to 302 square yards or 253 square metres. This may not sound a lot but you will be surprised how much produce such an allotment can produce. It means some hard work and crop management though, to make it efficient.
People from all walks of life, such as nurses, doctors, teachers, IT workers, sales people and factory workers might have an allotment. For many the fact that it is so different to their 9-5 work is part of the attraction. This can make the allotment relaxing as well as rewarding. The outdoor exercise is good also.
As people continue to have more and more concerns over shop bought food stuffs, growing your own is an attractive option.
Allotment rents are set locally and so do vary. If you are lucky you may pay less than £10 a year. If you are not you may pay £80 or more a year.
Allotments are thought to date back thousands of years in the UK. Laws amended rights over the years and not until the early part of the 20th Century were firm rules applied. Allotments came into their own during the First and Second World Wars in the UK.
With produce rationed and in short supply many people chose to grow their own fruit, flowers and veg. In the 2nd World War posters advertised allotments and asked people to "dig for victory".
In 1950 the Allotment Act offered guarantees that some land would always be available for allotments. However England is a very small country, with an constantly increasing population. A small percentage of the population own a huge percentage of land in the UK-the Toffs!
So land is in short supply. Although the decrease in the number of allotments has slowed they are still in short supply.
If you live in England and want to rent an allotment check out what is available through your local council. There are also some plots available which belong to the church. Remember to consider the location, for ease of use.
For example, if you have no private means of transport an allotment across town may not be ideal. When trying to work out the cost, consider the total amount if you have to start from scratch. In the long run an allotment could save you money, be fun and provide you with healthy produce. In the initial stages there will be some financial outlay.
If money is tight create a list and only purchase the essentials to get you started. You may find that others using the same patch of allotments will let you have some seeds once they get to know you.
Allotments still tend to be sociable places.