This week is National Allotments Week, which celebrates the 330,000 plots that already exist in the UK and seeks to increase the number available. Events and activities are being held around the country, with many sites opening their gates to the wider community between 8-14 August.
The National Allotments Week theme is "Growing Together", drawing attention to "the inclusive nature of allotment gardening, appealing to all sections of society from the unemployed to the professional, all races and religions and all levels of ability".
While allotment-holders may be seen as a solitary bunch, the society is highlighting the fact that many host projects with wider impacts.
Among them are Hazel Grove Allotments, which has created an area suitable for people with restricted mobility; Newdigate Allotments in Bedworth welcomes children from the local school who help out with their sensory garden and have met up with the resident beekeeper; another member in Porthcawl shares his plot with a group of people with a learning disability and helps them to cook the produce that they have grown, while the People’s Community Garden in Ipswich is internationally renowned.
Allotment sites also contribute a significant amount to the health and well-being of communities, particularly in built-up urban areas, while rural sites are often important community hubs.
Kenny, the National Allotment Society president, said: "We are proud of the Allotment Movement in Britain and its continued success in offering opportunities for families to provide for themselves, whilst also being a valuable resource to diverse groups of people.
"Social inclusion is an important part of allotment life and there are many projects for those with both physical and mental disabilities, as well as projects which target the socially disadvantaged. We also see whole families from toddlers right up to and including Granny and Granddad enjoying working together on their plots."
The NAS is calling on people who care about allotments to "do their part" to protect them
- Allotment associations - protect your site by registering as a community asset. Allotment Federations - keep allotments in the public eye, make sure they are mentioned in the Local Plan and lobby councillors and MPs.
- Councils - preserve and value your allotment service – it has the potential to deliver some of your public health targets.
- Plot-holders - join the National Allotment Society and support your regional allotment network to promote the allotment movement.
- Aspiring plot-holders - do not be put off by the thought of a long wait – sign up for a plot now; without waiting lists allotment authorities cannot assess demand.