Did you know that this week is National Allotment Week 9th-15th August?
Wouldn’t it be nice if each city, town, and village, had enough allotments for everyone who wants one within walking distance of their own home? Having an allotment does not only provide people with space to grow vegetables but also offers social interaction with other allotment holders, as well as providing natural spaces for our wildlife. Increasingly, it is becoming a hobby for all ages and people from all walks of life. It shares many benefits of being outdoors including breathing fresh air, providing exercise, immersing people in nature, with the added value of harvesting free, healthy food.
We have been growing our own food for thousands of years. Cultivating the land is not a new concept but development and population growth have led to more intensive methods of food production. As populations have grown, this has led to increased pressure on our land for more intensive agricultural practices, housing, communication, and transportation infrastructure. Politics has also played its part and has inadvertently pushed out traditional ways of crop cultivation.
Nowadays, we are allotted small pockets of land for us to rent out and cultivate, which can contribute to public health targets and improve loneliness. Working on an allotment all year round allows you to experience the seasons and all the wildlife that exists within it, slugs and all! It also helps you to understand and appreciate the world in which we live.
During lockdown, allotments have allowed us to gain some social interaction (although socially distanced) with other allotment holders. Meeting up with our allotment neighbours to talk about the trendiest tomatoes and the craziest courgettes, as well as soaking up some sun and topping up our vitamin D!
Many allotments have local competitions, with design and productivity assessed. Competitions can be based on the best variety of vegetables, tidiness, and methods of conservation. Sparking a little friendly competition encourages the holder to maintain a tidy and attractive allotment, which helps to keep morale high and improve mental health.