Get an allotment?
During the Second World War there were five million of them, so many falling into disrepair and neglect once people decided they would prefer to forget the austere years of the war. Allotments are experiencing a comeback in a big way! Most societies have a waiting list and you are likely to have to wait for several months, if not years, before you get your plot – such is the demand.
Why do people do it? There is a huge emphasis on knowing where your food comes from, for green, organic produce, and the very best in fresh vegetables. At one time the haunt of the flat cap brigade of old chaps, allotments are now growing in popularity with every sector of society. You are just as likely to see children and newlyweds as you are retired gentlemen, as well as every profession – one society has a doctor on plot 1 a judge on plot 3 and between them a window cleaner.
IMAGE: IMGP0979.jpg – always a chance for a natter!
There are a lot of reasons for holding an allotment. They free up the home for more aesthetic plants, a good lawn, flower beds, water features – everything that adds value to a property. Some have allotments because they are built in communities. There is usually a good shed or clubhouse where you can get more than just plants and fertiliser. There is always someone with a kettle on and always a chance for a good chat.
Even in the darkest of inner city areas, allotments are a haven for wildlife. There is nothing quite like being on the plot early in the morning and enjoying the company of a black bird or an inquisitive robin.
Of course the allotment is the must have accessory for those interested in the Good Life. Here you can grow any number of vegetables and with a decent plot you can be almost self sufficient in much – potatoes, cabbage, beans and peas! Anouchka Warren has been growing carrots on her allotment for the first time and values the opportunity to augment her supermarket bought food with something fresh and very. Very local. “It’s fabulous to see the veggies growing and then to take what you have grown and cooked yourself, is just wonderful. Of course, they always taste better!”
Allotments go back a long way, to Tudor times when the church gave out plots, allottedments, to poor parishioners so they might not starve. In Manchester they have been historically very important, a fact celebrated a few years ago in St Anne’s Square, under the shadow of Cobden’s statue, who was instrumental in fighting for the rights of people so they could grow their own food and whose efforts led to the repeal of the Corn Laws.
Rebecca Harrison, digging on her allotment in North Manchester, said she enjoys her allotment because it keeps her fit. Compared to the cost of gym membership, an allotment gives you a great workout at a pace you can keep to and at the same time masses of healthy food – probably for less than the cost of two month’s membership, and you get a shed to sit in when it rains!
To get an allotment you are best turning up to your local society on a Sunday morning where you are very much assured that a member of the committee will be on site. You will be put onto a waiting list and at this point it is a good idea to ask about non gardening membership, which usually costs a pound. This will entitle you to the discounts the other members get on tools, fertilisers and plants and your continued association with the society will ensure your swift promotion to full gardening membership.