Why bother having an allotment? They’re a huge amount of work. Many allotments are given up after a year due to people being unable to keep them up. I don’t think it’s that the work is exceptionally hard, although there is some hard work involved, it has more to do with the need to do regular work.
We’re lucky in that there’s four of us; two professional gardeners and two long-suffering partners of said professionals. So even if one couple is away, the other can always fill in. We also have a running list of friends who have all asked to come visit and help. I’ve grandly promised them that for a couple hours weeding, I’ll gladly pay them in produce. Now, I never promise how much produce, as it will likely be just a couple of small courgettes and maybe a few sticks of rhubarb…but they don’t know that (shhhh).
There are many reasons the Grow Your Own movement has gained new momentum over the last several years; the desire to eat more inexpensive food, safer food, more local food and the satisfaction of producing your own food. I’m sure I’ll touch on all these reasons at various points through this blog, but I don’t want this entry to turn into a Masters dissertation.
For myself, one of the greatest motivations is to have a more local source of food and, in part, through that I can help to reduce my carbon footprint. Fossil fuels are often heavily used in the production of food and then even more used in the transport of that food. By buying or even growing locally we can make a big difference. Now, I promise not to get preachy here, I love bananas and do buy them (Fairtrade naturally). There are very, very few of us that can truly claim to have a zero carbon footprint but small changes do add up. It may seem like the proverbial raindrop in an ocean, but enough raindrops will fill that ocean.
Before we had the allotment I often visited our local farmers’ market in Wimbledon Park. It’s small but has an amazing array of local foods available. More details for other markets can be found through the above link or you can follow them on Twitter @Londonfarmers. I have no doubt I’ll continue to visit through the next year to supplement what the allotment produces or even to fill in the gaps when the allotment fails to produce!