National Allotment Week 2008

Posted on: 07 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Celebrate a centenary of allotments and perfect a plot of your own with our advice.

National Allotment Week this year, taking place from 11th to 17th August, is celebrating 100 years of  the 1908 Allotments Act. This Act was the first of many giving the UK public the right to an allotment garden.

An allotment garden in 1908 was considered to be the answer to many social ills including poor health, excessive drinking and low life expectancy. There was a great need for fresh, affordable food.

The UK's health was never better than during the 'Dig For Victory' campaign in the second world war. This was because of the amount of fresh, seasonal, local foods available during this time.

Unfortunately, allotments were lost from the late 1950s until early in the 21st century. This was because of our growing affluence and the introduction of convenience foods.

Thankfully for the environment, we are now realising what we have lost, and still have a chance to get it back. Many local authorities and private providers are opening up new allotment sites. Some farms are finding that there is a balance between profit and the environment by turning over land for locals to grow their own food. This ranges from community food schemes to providing allotments.

Public interest in growing fresh food at an affordable price in a conducive environment has never been as strong as it is at the moment. With the downturn in the housing market, and the upsurge in the need for land for people to grow their own food, National Allotment Week hopes to encourage more short-term allotment provision to satisfy local needs.

More than 3,000 people in the UK on waiting lists for a plot. Many waiting lists exceed the total provision - where there are 100 allotments, there could quite easily be another 100 at least on the waiting list. Some allotment providers are offering smaller plots to starters to try to cope with this demand but still finding waiting lists are growing.

Although the 1908 Act places a statutory duty on councils to provide a sufficient number of allotments when requested by a letter from "six resident registered parliamentary electors or ratepayers" many councils find that they do not have the ready resources to do so. Nevertheless, there are many examples of councils forming partnerships with local landowners and finding other innovative ways of providing allotments.

The National Allotment Gardens Trust (NAGTrust) and National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) are the officially recognised representatives of the Allotment movement. During National Allotment Week in 2008 they are encouraging people to work together with their local authorities and anyone willing to provide land for allotment use.

The idea of National Allotment Week started in 2002 to encourage allotment holders to invite the public into their sites. There are now many examples of this around the UK. Details of allotments open during the week can be found on NAGTrust's website.

NAGTrust have put a poster on their website so that allotment societies and councils alike can allow the public to contact them for an guided tour at any time, as many sites found that they were unable to cope with the number of visitors turning up. If you have an allotment you can find out more about getting involved in National Allotment Week at NAGTrust's website.

Allotment Advice

You can find out more about getting an allotment and growing your own produce successfully by clicking on this link:

Perfect Your Plot

People & Their Plots

You can click on these articles to be inspired by allotmenteers:

Allotmenteers Unite To Save Plots Michael Wale talks with a West Country allotment organisation that wants to represent Britain nationally.

The Healing Allotment Michael Wale discovers how gardening has brought joy to a disadvantaged group.

Middlesborough Leads The Way In Urban Food Production Food should be grown in all our inner cities, says Michael Wale, just like they are doing in Middlesbrough.

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