Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Allotment Way of Life...

...under attack from within.

A recent commentator asked:  “What other hobby would cost £2 per week?” .  I have to say that renting an allotment is not the same as subscribing to satellite TV.  It’s a hobby which requires you to bring a lot more than your rent to the table.

Your contribution (over and above rent) includes shed, tools, seeds, soil improvers, ferlizers, canes, nets, fencing posts, chicken wire, weed killers, insecticides and barriers (slug pellets, thrip netting, brassica collars), watering devices (waterbut, cans, sprays, hose, sprinkler) transport costs (allotments are seldom at your back door)  … Oh, time and effort. Lots and lots of it.

Every new allotment holder starts out with the best of intentions but there are things that can interfere with your plans. You will most likely have to deal with some or all of the following:  bad weather, illness, family illness, other family events(happy and sad), work demands, transport failure.

The rewards are there: Fresh air, exercise, food, an otherwise unexperienced sense of peace and achievement. (What I call vegetable Karma). Some people value the social element above all else. 
The downside is that at times you will certainly be  cold, wet, dirty, experience crop failure and devastation by pests. be prepard for constant disappointment followed by theft, vandalism and the associated anxiety.  Neighbours can be a support, but they allocated to you randomly and  not necessarily compatible. No site is immune from the odd feud. A good allotment is a constant draw on your time. And then there’s the expense which eats into any return. You won't make a profit out of a patch that size (even if you were to ignore the rule about not being allowed to sell produce)

To all this add the fact that local authorities have recently decided that they can make money from allotments and are pressing to raise rents all over the country.  

My view is that it is unethical for the council to drive rents up just because there is excess demand,  to use allotment rental for capital expenditure either in leisure or other departments. They should be not for profit.  I also think it is an absolute disgrace that the representative body for Edinburgh allotment holders FEDAGA  lobbied the Council to put up the rents of its fee paying members. Lewis Carroll would have seen the absurdity in that. It’s a pity that no one is now speaking up for allotment holders’ interests anymore in Edinburgh.


  1. I am sure if I didn't have to work I would have a lot more time to garden and that would be SO nice but then I would have a lot less money to spend on the garden (I remember that time from when I didn't work while I was raising my children). We don't have allotments here but if we did, I am sure "someone" would be making money from them.

  2. Maybe some realistic advice about what having an allotment is really like and the committment needed would reduce the waiting lists considerably rather than the perpetuation that it is all idyllic. Maybe a slogan such as "Allotment gardening isn't a hobby - it's a way of life"

  3. I sometimes wonder how people who aren't retired mange so much land...but of course you have those that don't work so they have a lot more time. I love to use my allotment as a chance to be alone and get fresh air and gain a feeling of self worth....but yes it's bloody hard work. I think there are the people who don't realise how much work and time has to go into maintaining a garden, you have those that do it because growing your own seems to be the 'in' thing at the moment or they want a bit of a hobby...I am always confused when someone on my allotment will turn round to me and go, 'I can't believe the weeds, I was only here 3 weeks ago!'......Sometimes I wonder what inspired them to even put their names on the waiting list!!

  4. Sue @ G L Allotments echoed my sentiments on your earlier post which mentioned the £2 a week rent. Another slogan for those on the waiting list could be, "You only get out of an allotment, what you are prepared to put into it". (sometimes less)??

  5. I agree with what you are saying - I don't really consider it hard work - but I have been doing it for so long now I consider it more a way of life - and I certainly wouldn't consider never carrying on with it.

  6. Currently the Council in Edinburgh is still subsidising the provision of their allotments- expenditure exceeding income (as had always been the case). The rents will rise a little more before the costs will be covered. I calculate the weekly cost as being £1.54 ie £80 divided by 52. Less than the cost of a carry out latte :)
    Of course if you are really hard up ( a banker whose bonuses have been suspended wouldn't qualify, sorry Mal) ie on benefits, you would be paying the 50% concessionary rate anyway.
    I doubt many reasonable people would think that the hard up council tax payer should subsidise people's allotment use!