Saturday, 30 June 2007

All about allotments

(This is what it looks like after strimming)

This post is really for 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?


weirdbunny said...

What a fantastic post. I can't imagine countries not having allotments. Living on a small holding we have a very large veg plot, but I so love the ides of an allotment.

It's that whole community thing. Digging, swapping seeds.

If I had one I'd definately cook stuff there, so exciting !

andsewtosleep said...

Now I really really want an allotment. Thanks for your comment - it brought a big smile to my face. Love your strippy quilt. I often quilt in the ditch and then tie off with buttons or thread. I think your MOP buttons look perfect. Mary

Thimbleanna said...

Oh what a WONDERFUL post! Thank you SO much for answering my questions -- you've outdone yourself! Really -- I didn't mean to pry -- especially about the expense -- but it looks to be such a wonderful bargain. What a fun idea these allotments are -- as weirdbunny said -- the community thing. And how fabulous that you are surrounded by your friends. We have gardens here, but on each person's own land, so you don't get the community aspect that you speak of. I've really been wanting a garden lately, but I have too many trees on my lot and not enough sun. Maybe next year I'll figure out how to do a few things in pots on the patio. Your allotment looks great -- and what a lot of work you've done! I would love the shed and the cooking at your allotment. Do you eat s'mores there? You mentioned the marshmallows -- you must try making s'mores! ;-) THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart -- I LOVE this post!!! ;-) Oh -- and have you heard of dutch oven cooking? That would be a very fun thing to do at your allotment! You could prepare a wonderful cobbler and it could be cooking while you weed and harvest your allotment! ;-)

Yummers! said...

I loved reading your post about 'allotments'. I've seen and heard a bit about them on some of our BBC shows, however you provided so much wonderful information. My husband was really interested in reading it too.
Thanks for making me 'more worldly'.

picperfic said...

how i love to read your make me feel positively lazy! Those veg sound just so delicious. I also adore your enthusiasm! Congratulations on a wonderful lifestyle!

Dorothy said...

Your allotment looks beautiful. It almost makes me want to get out the tiller and start ripping up our property.

I totally agree. Waiting to eat your fresh foods until after you get home is just silly. Especially with raspberries and strawberries.

lazylol said...

Lovely post. Allotments are fab, we have a few in the family and I love going to visit them!

Foothills Fabric & Threads said...

I really enjoyed reading your post on allotments and the photos were great. I read a book a while ago and it was set in England during the beginning of WW2 and that was the first time I had heard of allotments wish I had seen your pics back then. Sandra

Leanne said...

Hi Lucy
Great post on allotments. My husband is english I met him while travelling and dragged him back to Australia, so I am familiar with allotments. We have foxtel and my husband watches East Enders religiously he grew up on the east side of London so I expect it takes him home. When I hear about allotments I think of East Enders as someone has one in the program. I'm not sure if that is a good thing. I will get my husband to read your blog I am sure he will find it interesting. When we lived in London we had a garden the size of a postage stamp but I did manage to grow some peas/beans along the back wall. As you know there is nothing like fresh grown veg. Happy stitching and gardening.

Yummers! said...

Where, oh where, is Lucy Locket? Miss you!

Fiona said...

Hi Lucy! Thanks for visiting my blog - I have to confess my allotment would be a wilderness if it weren't for my Dad helping me but I wouldn't give it up now I've got it!

meggie said...

What a very interesting post! I am here from ..I forget, I got so caught up in your post!lol.
I have really enjoyed your writing & your lovely information.
It seems odd to us, who have grown up with vegie gardens as the norm, to read about allotments.
I never realised that some of you actually ate the food on site!
What fun.

Suzie Sews said...

Great pst, allotments are soooo cool
Suzie Sews