IF MONEY IS TIGHT AND KIDS ARE IN SIGHT, THEN AN ALLOTMENT MAKES SENSE – FIRST WEEK IN OCTOBER 2011

Travelling by wheelbarrow at allotments in Brandan, Warwickshire, near Garden Organic, May 2011

Visiting new allotmenteers after successful campaign by Louth Green Party to establish allotments in Drogheda area.

A very good friend sent me an article there from the UK’s financial website of the year www.thisismoney.co.uk. The title was Grow your own food and chop £1,300 from the grocery bill. It refers to research by the UK’s National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, which has found that allotment holders spend on average £202 growing vegetables and fruit every year that would sell for £1,564 in the shops. The article goes on to say, ‘With the cost of the weekly grocery bill rising by an average of 6.1% in the past year, interest in growing your own vegetables is expected to soar – and allotments are an ideal place for most people to do it.

In my humble opinion, a bit of a back garden is the ideal place to grow food yourself, if you have a back garden. Two steps from your back door to your salad bed is much handier than a possible two miles of a trip to a local allotment, before you can harvest your lunch. It is the needs of children to kick a ball about in the garden or play with the dog, which points to an allotment being a good idea in my opinion. The allotment has many other advantages, however. Meeting other growers on nearby plots can become  an ad hoc ‘agricultural academy’. Tips on what to do and what not to do, offers of  spare seedlings and communal picnics can create a whole new circle of friends of the earth – so to speak!

The place to start is an email or phone call to the local authority and ask for the allotment officer. Either join a waiting list and/or enquire about private allotments in the locality. Private plots are generally more expensive, but some really go all out to make allotmenteers welcome with picnic areas, water taps, a weeding and watering service if you are away for a while, tea making facilities and toilets, complimentary manure, etc.

It may well require a couple of  hours on your plot per week but if you can make it  an enjoyable activity, then just consider it a pastime with a purpose, a financially sensible purpose. Another bonus is that it is a fairly healthy, peaceful pastime, unlike the allotmenteering during the Second World War when food was grown on bombed out sites. Mr. Middleton, the BBC gardening expert at the time mused, ‘Won’t it be grand when we can sit on the old garden seat, and listen to the birds instead of the sirens!’. Enjoy the birds!

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