The Joy of My First Allotment

Once you get the growing bug, you can never have enough space! 

I’ve been growing my own produce for as long as I’ve had little garden’s to do it in; with mixed success. 

Never enough space

I’ve only ever had small garden spaces, with one exception when we lived in Bulgaria for a short while.  We had 1/4 acre of land, but we were only there for one growing season.

When we moved to our current suburban terraced house in Bristol, UK, the first thing I did was dig up the pointless strip of scraggy lawn and plant a veg bed. 

It’s a north west facing garden, shaded by trees and houses. With limited growing space and limited sunshine, my results have been limited. 

I love my little garden, but it’s not enough to satisfy my inner farmer!

The wait for land

I joined the local authority allotment list soon after moving to this house. I think I was on the list for 6 or 7 years, until finally, in 2023, I got the gate code to my first allotment.

I signed the lease and got the keycode at the start of April – perfect timing for the UK growing season

View of Hen's Tooth allotment from the bottom of the slope

View up the slope of my allotment

Why an allotment?

An allotment is a piece of land, usually leased from a local authority or private owner, to grow crops, flowers, or other plants.

As rare as Hen’s Teeth

Allotments are like hen’s teeth in Bristol. With thousands of people on the waiting lists, one part time member of staff employed by the council to manage things, and very few plots and sites available. 

Our current council administration seems intent on selling off any available land to property developers. Local people growing fruit and veg doesn’t make them any money!

Because allotment plots are as a rare as hen’s teeth in Bristol, I’ve named my little slice of off grid earth, ‘Hen’s Tooth’.

I’ve even changed my Instagram to share my allotment adventures!

The Benefits of an Allotment

Here are just a few of the many benefits of having an allotment.

Fresh, healthy produce

One of the obvious benefits of having an allotment is the opportunity to grow your own fresh, healthy produce. You can choose to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, depending on your taste and preferences. By growing your own food, you have complete control over the growing process, including the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Be sure the food you eat is free from harmful chemicals and fresh.

I’ll be growing organically on my parcel of land and using the No Dig method.

Physical activity

Gardening is a great form of exercise. Having an allotment gives you the opportunity to spend more time outdoors and get some physical activity. Gardening involves a range of activities, from digging and planting to weeding and harvesting, all of which can help to keep you active and healthy.

My plot is a sloping site, I’ll certainly stay fit working up and down the site.

Mental health benefits

In addition to the physical benefits, gardening has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood and self-esteem. Gardening can also provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which can be particularly beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues.

One of the things I love about gardening is the sense of hope and anticipation. The very act of propagating and nurturing a plant is an act of hope; of looking forwards to a time in the future. The anticipation of feeling great satisfaction, of harvesting that ripe produce and taking a juicy bite for the first time.

The allotment Community

Allotments are often located in communal areas, and this provides a great opportunity to meet other gardeners and form friendships. Gardening is a social activity, and many allotment holders enjoy sharing tips and advice with each other. Some allotment sites also organize social events and competitions.

I’m yet to meet my neighbours at the allotment. I look forward to making new friends and feeling part of a community of fellow growers and plant nerds.

Environmental benefits

Growing your own food has a number of environmental benefits. Firstly, it reduces your carbon footprint as it eliminates the need for transportation of produce from farms to markets. Additionally, growing your own food reduces the amount of packaging and plastic waste that is generated from buying pre-packaged produce. Finally, by growing your own produce, you can reduce your reliance on supermarkets, which often source food from environmentally damaging practices.

It’s one more way to disconnect myself from the tethers of our broken food system; to reduce my plastic use and waste, to take a step closer to more self sufficient and sustainable life.

Culinary adventures

I’m, looking forward to gluts of produce and making delicious meals, preserves and ferments from it. I’ll share my adventures and discoveries of both growing and using my produce.

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