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Environmental Issues
And
Going Green

By Alan J Hartley

A New Interest In Allotments.

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Interest has surged over the last couple of years as allotments seem to have suddenly come back into vogue with people both young and old and from all walks of life asking how they can get one. Such is the interest there is now even a TV Channel called the Horticultural Channel dedicated to gardening with some programs aimed purely at allotment holders.

Many years ago allotments were first created as something for the poor working man, to rent and cost only a few pounds a year, so that he could grow a few more fruit and vegetables. The idea of growing your own food was given a big boost during the Second World War with the familiar slogan of the times, “Dig For Victory.” After the war the concept of ordinary people having an extra bit of land to grow a little extra food on for themselves, never really went away, but in more recent decades the ever increasing hunger for building land, that was not on “Greenfield sites,” meant that many allotments were sold by councils and other land owners for various building projects.

However, with “green Issues,” becoming ever more important in everybody’s lives the interest in allotments has surged, especially as the Government seems to be encouraging the construction of new plots. Waiting lists to rent an allotment plot near peoples own homes can be several years and in some cases as much as 5, 10, 15 years, or even more. Many local/parish councils are actively seeking out sources of land to comply with the new directives and of course the most obvious sources of small parcels of land are from local farmers. My local Parish Council has been able to reach an agreement with such a farmer and from his point of view it makes good business sense. (Link) Many farmers are trying to diversify their land usage anyway and the rental from a field of allotments is a lot better than from putting a field out for grazing or hay, etc. It is also a guaranteed income each year with no crop failure.

Indeed some farmers are trying to set up their own allotment plots without any assistance from local Councils as they like the idea so much. I have seen a sign on a small field on the outskirts of a small built up area only a few miles from my home saying that the land owner has allotment plots to let privately.

There is also a national scheme to create a land bank that members of the public can register with, that aims to makes available land from other sources such as the National Trust, with its stately homes and the NHS, that is also a large land owner with many more possible sites all round the country.

Perhaps more interestingly still, is the fact that one of the largest Garden Centre chains has decided to “Jump on the Band Wagon,” and is making available small plots on sites attached to their retail Garden Centres. Their plots are perhaps some of the most expensive to rent, but do have the advantage that all the gardeners needs, be they seeds, compost, plants, or pots, are only a few yards away in the centre. Also of course, so is warm shelter, public toilets and in most cases, a fully equipped café/restaurant. These allotment plots are not typical of belonging to a poor working man, but for those more interested in top of the range, luxury, armchair gardening with all the comforts of home while still doing something “Green!”

 

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Books By
Alan J Hartley