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.
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.
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