The Vale of Glamorgan's Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Allotment Life In The Vale

The benefits of having an allotment and growing your own veg are substantial.
, / 2018

A few lucky people have been working on an allotment for years. I say lucky because getting an allotment these days can sometimes come with a hefty price tag and an exceptionally long waiting list. The benefits are worth the wait.

Firstly, what is an allotment?
A patch of land, generally owned by the local council or private landowner, that’s split up into ‘plots’. On each plot locals grow their own fruit, flowers or vegetables. There is a long tradition of allotments in Britain and they were the backbone of food production in the war years when rations were in place.

The health benefits…

Being out in the open air – working with the land and exercising is certainly good for your mental and physical health, according to the National Allotment Society. You’ll be burning calories and growing the best food you can eat. It’s win, win!

It’s lovely to get out of the house. Laure does all of the planting and I’m the one who builds things. Our friends have also helped. Due to Covid, we haven’t been able to have a holiday for a year or so, so it’s lovely to come here, potter and relax. We have a lovely window here and we can see into the next field. We see a pheasant from time-to-time and many tame birds.
Keith, Laure (allotment holders) and friends Juliette and David, Dinas Powys

It’s very sociable…
Feeling lonely? Forget it, you’ll never be lonely on an allotment. And if your idea of owners is grumbling old men, think again, owners these days are young and old and as diverse as you can imagine in their gender, backgrounds and interests.

You’ll find a real community spirit on an allotment and you’ll make lasting friendships (occasionally a little green eye creeps in but generally owners are supportive and helpful).

Grow expensive fruit and veg yourself…
Forget scouring the supermarket for pricey veg, why not grow your own? Just a few popular, but hard to get, are Cavolo Nero (black kale), Pink Fir apple potatoes, Chinese artichokes and unusual squashes – the list is endless, and owners will always swap plants and seeds.

It’s a great way to get away from the kids for an hour!
Steve and Laura, Dinas Powys

It’s incredibly rewarding…
The satisfaction of eating what you’ve grown is priceless. And it tastes divine.

You can be creative…
Your allotment can be beautiful as well as plentiful. You can plant flowers alongside veg (which helps keep the pests down and aids pollination). Some owners keep chickens – some paint their sheds cool colours. Your plot can be as individual as you are. One chap we met paints beautiful little signs to identify his crops.

It’s good for the environment
If you’re working an allotment, you’re probably doing more than your fair share for the environment; creating essential habitats for bees and other wildlife. In urban areas this is especially important.

It’s educational…
If you’re grown up, learning about fruit and veg and how to grow them is a great skill to have but it’s even more benefit to children who have become detached from food production over decades. Children need to understand where food comes from and appreciate how hard it can be to produce sometimes – allotments are very good places to learn about failure and how to deal with it.

I was on the waiting list for three years for my allotment and finally took possession of it last January. I took it up to keep fit and to supply my family with fresh veg which we eat a lot of!
Therese, Porthcawl

You’ll save money…
Forget gym memberships and Peloton subscriptions, get digging and watch the pounds fall off. And you’ll be eating the best food possible – organic is what your body needs, and it tastes amazing.

How to apply for an allotment
Contact your local council to apply to an allotment near you. They will either allocate you a plot or, in many cases, add your name to a waiting list.

I’ve been on the list for six years and have been on this plot since last March. I’m particularly proud of my sunflowers which I named after our grandchildren. It’s a fantastic community here. Everyone was so welcoming and are happy to share equipment when needed.

Rob, Dinas Powys

Can’t get an allotment?
Panic not, you can grow vegetables in a window box or tub. You’ll be amazed at what you can produce in your own small space. And you can always visit an allotment for tips and ideas. In my experience, allotment owners are some of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet.

You’ll also see the occasional YouTube star!

Play the long game…
If there’s a two year wait, put your name down. It’ll come around soon enough. Patience is another thing you’ll learn growing fruit and veg.

Bottom line. Don’t delay…
Search on Facebook for an allotment near you or just pop in when you’re passing one. You never know, your luck may be in.

Tell us about your allotment life…
Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. @ValeLife #ValeLife

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