We read recently that St James Park is going to reproduce a WWII allotment as part of their education on rationing and the “War on Waste”. We thought allotments were for old men in sheds – why do you think allotments have become popular again?

This is never going to be trendy and will always be a bit of outsider culture compared to the mainstream happy with a herb box on the windowsill but people are signing up for a variety of reasons:

There are a lot of urban young people taking it up – in cities there is little space and gardens come at a premium (think an extra $100k+). Allotments offer your own green space at $100/year! These are a premium resource, some areas have 10 year waiting lists and there is potential that some may be reclaimed for housing. Prices of staple foods are going through the roof. People tend to grow what they can’t get cheap in the stores. Rocket is pricy in the supermarket but grows like wildfire if planted outdoors. ‘Independence’ may be part of it, about 30% of plots are run by women. Parents want to teach their kids about real food and use it to teach them about the cycle of life rather than handing them a suicidal hamster to be found dead a week later behind a bookcase.

Sustainability issues are high on the agenda. Whether organic seeds or sustainable fertilizer. The ‘old hands’ though still use peat and chemicals to ensure the best crop as they know that organic is a high risks strategy, with the possibility of losing entire crops especially with the changing climate.

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