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.