For people without a garden, or with no space to grow fruit and vegetables, an allotment is a lifeline. It can be a challenge to get one but once you have your own plot you can get started growing your own crops. Find out everything you need to know about allotments here.
How to apply for an allotment
Your local council will have allotments they allocate to residents so you can apply direct to them. In many instances your name will be added to a waiting list. If you are lucky you may be offered a plot straightaway.
In some areas private landlords have land that they divide up into allotments. You may want to do some research locally to see whether any other opportunities such as these exist.
Find your local county council here
How long does it take?
It depends on how long the waiting list is. It can be anything from no wait at all to several years. Council plots tend to be particularly hard to get, but you never know – it depends on the area.
How much does an allotment cost?
You will need to pay an annual fee to cover your use of an allotment. Councils either charge a flat fee per plot or a price per square metre. For example, Plymouth Council currently charges a flat fee per half plot or full plot. They spread the cost of water charges between all allotment holders.
In contrast Medway Council charges per square metre. They also provide different options such as a plot only or a plot with water and a container as well. Check your local council or other allotment services to see how reasonable the fees would be in your area.
If you cannot find any practical options for renting an allotment locally, don’t lose heart. Some people have got together and created opportunities for themselves instead of waiting for someone else to create them.
This is where allotment funding comes in. There are many green spaces around the country that are available for community use. In some cases these spaces can be transformed into allotments for the good of that community. The government website provides information on looking for grant schemes that allocate cash to initiatives such as these.
The schemes include:
- Navca – www.navca.org.uk
- The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation – www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk
- The Big Lottery Fund – www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
- Awards for All – www.awardsforall.org.uk
- The Social Investment Business – www.thesocialinvestmentbusiness.org
- The Heritage Lottery Fund – www.hlf.org.uk
View an up to date list complied by the Government, on organisations that offer grants for allotments – Click here
When you are finally able to rent a plot you will have a set of guidelines you must adhere to. For example you must ensure your plot is always tidy and does not become overgrown. If you leave it to become rife with weeds you can expect it to be taken off you and given to someone else.
As you would expect, you can grow a variety of fruit and vegetables on your plot and indeed you should do so throughout the year. You won’t be expected to use the entire plot all the time; sometimes the land may need to lie fallow so you can prepare it for future use.
In addition to growing fruit and vegetables you should be able to keep certain forms of livestock. This is generally limited to rabbits and hens; check your specific allotment rules and guidelines to confirm numbers. Most allotment guidelines are common sense. As long as you keep things tidy and use it for the purpose for which it is intended, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Have you considered landshare?
If you cannot find an allotment no matter how hard you try, you can consider landshare instead. It was launched through River Cottage in 2009 and has grown into a thriving community of more than 55,000 growers, sharers and helpers. It is ideal for people who have land they are not fully using and who would like to share it with those who do not have the space to grow their own fruit and vegetables. If you are looking for land you can use landshare to find people near to where you live that have land they are willing to share in this way.
For more information and how to apply visit: www.landshare.net
As you can see, there is more than one way to get the plot you want. Make sure you look at all the possibilities so you can grow your own.