Tuesday 25 January 2011

Green Tax 2 - How much does it cost to run?

This year I started to count what I spent but that soon fell by the wayside. So I am very gratefull to Kathy at Skippy's Vegetable Garden who kept track of her expenditure over a three year period. Here are her figures: (Reproduced with permission)

The figures are rounded and in $US. multiply by 0.66 to convert to sterling.

If you need UK corroboration then visit Dobbys Pumpkin patch where Sue and Lee are very good at keeping records (and brewing) dobbyspumpkinpatch

 In any currency the costs are probably more than you think. To run a plot productively you need a certain outlay. All the more when you are starting up.  Before you cover your expenses you need to produce at least £400 of produce. If you need a new shed, paving material or fencing it will be a lot more. And if you are spending less you must have a free supply of manure - or you won't be getting much of a return.  What happens if you add another £100 to your expenditure? - Your break even point is that much further away.

Do the Council or those commentators who think it's a doddle to grow presentable fruit and veg realise the outlay required? 

Now for the biggest cost:

The City of Edinburgh Council surveyed Edinburgh Allotment holders in 2007 and concluded that the AVERAGE time spent working on allotments was 11 hours per week in the summer down to 4 hours per week in the winter. Rounding the annual weekly average down to 7 hrs per week (or 1hr per day) means an annual total of 365 hours. Were you (perish the thought) to pay someone to take your place at the UK minimum wage (£5.93) that would amount to a tidy bill of £2,164.45. 

This time and effort input by gardeners is conveniently overlooked when considering what it costs to run a plot and what suitable rents are. While there are undoubtedly rewards too (which I spend the rest of the year going on about) there are also sacrifices.

If I were unwaged or on a meagre pension (looking increasingly likely for a lot of people) the increase in rent, even the 50% rate, would be the last nail in the coffin. So I hope to persuade my fellow plot holders to collectively object to the Council's policy. The next problem is how, given that my local association FEDAGA has gone over to the dark side. Maybe I'll save that for another post!


  1. I like the spreadsheet but not sure if I really want to know how much it costs to run a plot! Good luck with your fight against rent increases; scandalous in a recession that they are hiking them up so much. A small banker's tax would more than cover it plus a few new hospitals!!

  2. I have no idea how much it cost too run my plot. I buy my seeds and potting compost but thats about it. I have a tiller but i let a another plot holder use it freely so they supply the fuel and I get free manure.....i have spent alot on fruit bushes and trees in the last couple of years but this outlay will pay for itself in time...my rents are currently low too so I think I have a pretty good time of it.

    Plus I don't really want to know as I have my allotment as I enjoy being outside and active and I think it's great to get the kids involved!

  3. Dynamo - The Council's shortfall (before the rises) was a mere £15,000.

    Rents collection was £45,000 and they claim they spend £60,000 - we have an allotment officer)

    The Council insists (rightly) on a discount for benefit claimants and pensioners but they want the rest of us to chip in extra to pay for that subsidy!

    Tany, I understand your viewpoint, because it was mine too. But I've been forced into compiling this analysis by events.

  4. I suppose there are others things though to take into consideration e.g. How much would it cost to fund another hobby or join a gym.?

    Then what cost the health benefits of being active and outdoors.

    I know excatly what you mean though - it isn't a cheap fix especially for people living where we do where the council rents are really high.