Food, glorious food!

It seems appropriate that the garden allotments pictured here lie in the shadow of an Anglo-Saxon church dating from the seventh century.  It  was during Saxon times that the parcelling of land began.

Of course, over the centuries there were many changes and the present system has its roots in the nineteenth century when land was given to the labouring poor.  Provision was gradually extended and at the end of World War I land was made available for all.  A statutory obligation was placed on Local Authorities to provide allotments wherever need arose.

The demand has inevitably been greatest in war years and in times of economic difficulty.  In 1944, encouraged by the Government’s Dig for Victory campaign, the number of allotments was estimated to be 1.75 million.  By 1970 the number had fallen to 532,000, partly because of the pressure to find land for building, partly due to the advent of supermarkets, and partly to other social changes.

In recent years there has been a revival of interest fuelled not only by economic problems but also by a growing demand for fresh food.  Virtually all Local Authorities report a sizeable waiting list for available plots.

The site pictured has approximately 100 plots, most of which are in an advanced stage of clearing and preparation for the new season.

A feature of allotment sites is the camaraderie and community spirit.  For some the ‘shed’ is more than just a place where tools are kept.


Filed under Garden, Nature, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Food, glorious food!

  1. An educational post Louis! I imagine the community spirit is as big a draw as the fruits of the labor. Thanks!

    • Thanks Elena. I’m not sure that the community dimension is a major draw initially but it certainly blossoms as the gardeners share their interests, successes and failures. Small scale bartering is quite common.

  2. These are a far cry from what I’m used to seeing in nYC and environs. (Not tomention the presence of a building well over a thousand years old! So many plots – and how nice that people are allowed to build sheds on them. Thanks for showing this! Can we see the church sometime?

    • Thanks Lynn. Sheds have always been a feature of allotments, but there is much less variety now than in the past, largely because of the rules laid down by the Local Authority landlords There was a time when sheds were built from whatever materials the gardener could assemble and, as a consequence, each shed had its own distinctive character – often reflecting the personality and skills of the builder! I don’t have any pictures of the church in my archives, but its something I must get around to very soon.

  3. Great. I am an allotment holder too. A bit chilly for any planting at the moment!

  4. Our village had an area of land bequeathed in the late 1800s for ‘the poor men of the village’ and has been used for allotments for years. Well, some of it has; some of it has been used for grazing as there isn’t enough take up of allotments. How different to so many other places! There is now a plan, that has bitterly divided the village, to build ‘affordable housing’ on some of it.

    • The demand for increased housing and the pressure from Government targets is creating problems in many places. In the village where my pictures were taken an uneasy compromise has been reached. New houses are to be built but the developers have agreed to increase the number of allotments!!

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