Thimbleanna in reply to the questions she asked after my last one:
"Your allotment looks like fun. I've seen allotments, but don't know, really how they work as we don't have them here. Do you purchase the land or rent it? And how do you eat there -- set up a campfire or something to cook the meal? Does the little building contain "kitchen" types of things so that you can cook? Is it common to eat the food at the allotment or do most people just take it home? Hope I'm not being too nosy -- just love learning what goes on in other parts of the world! ;-) "
So No.1 - Do you purchase the land or rent it?
Well, we rent it from the local council for £25 plus £11 for water per year (Some allotments charge even less). The allotment seems huge to us as it is about 28' x 90' (although that is not a precise figure - I can't quite remember what it is!).
The one we rent is about 2 miles from our house - there is one nearer but it has a long waiting list and you are not allowed any sheds or greenhouses on it which would make it much less fun for the children. I decided on impulse last June to go to this allotment and ask if they had any spare plots. They looked at me and said no - the only ones left were in such a bad state I wouldn't even want to consider them and they didn't want to walk me all the way over to them (there are over 300 on the site) as they knew I would say no when I saw it. So, being me, I asked if I could look anyway so I fetched the family from the car and we followed their directions into the middle of the site. We wandered up and down the paths looking at various derelict plots until we found one we quite liked and to their amazement signed for it there and then. This is what it looked like at the beginning
It was the two youngest children's birthday party that afternoon (I think we were actually on our way to it when I stopped at the allotments!) and I told my friend Alison what we had done so she decided to sign up for the one next to me. After that another 4 people directly and indirectly connected with us signed up for the plots on our block. So having told me I wouldn't want to bother with an allotment the committee were amazed to have 6 derelict plots taken over in a very short space of time (followed by many more over the last year)
No. 2 - How do you eat there?
We have a little camping stove that we cook and boil the kettle for tea on. We also take up picnics and sometimes portable barbecues and we have been known to toast marshmallows over raging bonfires and Alison has even wrapped potatoes in foil and placed them in the bonfire at the beginning so that we can rake them out once it has burnt down - yum.
No.3 - Does the little building have "kitchen" types of things
I'm really using this question as an excuse to show off : the little building Anna is referring to is actually the children's shed and was found by our very kind allotment neighbours Anne and Pete and built for us as a surprise when we were first starting out.
Earlier this year, with the help of Anne and Pete again and the lovely Ron, I managed to restore the other "shed" type building on our plot.
To the left is what it looked like last year and to the right is how it looks now. You can see the difference in the weather as well as both shots were taken at the same time of year! I am really proud of this shedalthough I wouldn't have managed it at all without all the help from the others - DIY is not a strong point of mine. I love my shed and I particularly love playing at tidying it- not at all like real housework!
Finally, "Is it common to eat the food at the allotment or do most people just take it home?"
Well, my big sister Ally's response to this question was to say "Of course it's not normal! Only my mad little sister would do something that silly!" But here is my chance to tell her she is WRONG! Ha Ha!!! (only joking Al) Yes, the majority of crops are taken home (and then often distributed amongst friends and family as you always grow more than you need), but quite a few of the allotmenteers that I know love to be able to dig their potatoes and wash and cook them straight away - and as for freshly podded peas, delicious peppery salad leaves and just picked raspberries and strawberries - why would you want to wait to eat them?