A lot of benefits to having an allotment

Posted On 17 Aug 2019 at 12:01 am

It’s National Allotments Week so I have been digging around to find out more about our activity in Brighton, Hove and Portslade.

Chatting to Jane, a site rep on one of the council’s 37 allotment sites, I asked what she thought were the main benefits of having a local allotment.

She said it’s about fresh produce. The satisfaction of growing and eating your own food – and the pleasure of giving surplus stock to friends, family and neighbours.

But that was just for starters … Jane told me that some people come along to one of the community allotments to de-stress and enjoy being in the company of others who are creating something while getting back to nature.

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Councillor Alan Robins, another allotment holder, chipped in to say it helps with health and wellbeing.

Being out in the fresh air and getting some exercise has a positive impact on mental health.

He explained how Portslade Allotment Association has brought together a community of people for the common good.

They exchange ideas, organise days out and hold an annual flower and vegetable show with prize giving – happening on Saturday 24 August this year if you want to drop by and join in the fun.

Best of all, there is a volunteer-led shop selling compost, seeds and tools with all the money going back into the allotments – a great example of a circular economy.

This brought to mind a conversation I had while visiting a friend in our local hospital the other week.

He told me the food served is transported from Wales. Wouldn’t it be good, he said, if we could grow the food for patients locally – creating local jobs, saving hundreds of food miles and delivering really fresh food to sick people.

Community wealth building in action and it would contribute to our goal of a carbon neutral city too.

Think of the potential if we could grow local food on community allotments so we can give people on low incomes fresh fruit and vegetables at food banks. The health benefits would be enormous.

Next time some farmland or downland becomes available, I hope we can convert it into large-scale allotments and use the expertise from our current allotment holders to help make these ideas a reality.

Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. J kennedy Reply

    7 year waiting list for the site we’re on. Maybe longer now. We got one last year.

  2. Billy Reply

    The waiting lists for allotments vary according to which site you go for. But obviously it’s better to have a plot which is easier to get to.
    I lived on Albion Hill in Hanover for thirty years and I was on the waiting list for the nearby Chates farm allotments for at least fifteen years. Nothing came up, even though I was near the top of the list.
    Eventually, I got asked to help on another site nearby, where several people were sharing a plot. And that communal growing thing was fun, and sharing the workload was also good.
    But, one by one, the members of the group moved away or else got pregnant or promoted, and I ended up with the plot to myself – and it’s been that way for ten years now. The person who has time to do the work eventually gets the plot.
    I can tell you that there’s the fantasy of running an allotment and then there’s the reality. The fantasy is you get your own bit of land and you produce cheap and fresh vegetables to feed your family. The reality is that it’s a lot of hard work, and that if you want to feed the family you’d be better off spending those same hours at work, even on minimum wage, and then buy your veg from Lidl or Aldi. For half the year, you don’t have any veg at all.
    But, hey, I love my allotment. I love weeding and I love digging. I love the seasons and social aspect and then I love the outdoor solitude when there’s only me there.
    Some years I get a lot of one type of vegetable and in other years the caterpillars or the blackfly get them first. Every year there’s a glut of veg of one sort or another which I give away, but then I often find that picking and distributing the food is actually more work than growing it. I grow pumpkins for the kids to have at hallowe’en, even though you can buy them cheaper in the shops nowadays.
    Above all however, my allotment is my happy place and an escape from modern life and work pressure. It’s a hobby, good exercise for your later life, and to be honest the fresh veg is just a bonus.
    Potatoes and beans have done well this year, but some of the other green veg have suffered with the dry weather followed by August gales. It has been a very strange year for weather.

  3. Rolivan Reply

    Could somebody tell “can do” Cllr Platts that tbe Council owns hundreds of acres of farmland.

  4. Vivienne Caisey Reply

    Brighton and Hove Organic Gardeners (BHOGG) have a community allotment on the Weald allotment site in Hove. Volunteer sessions are held every Sunday from 11am – 1pm. You can find details on our website. All ages and gardening abilities welcome. We regularly attract 15- 20 people per session. It is a very friendly group with the bonus of some lovely organic produce to take home for your efforts if there are crops to harvest www.https://bhorganicgardeninggroup.org/

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