We have all heard about allotment gardening or community gardening as its known in some countries. This was a movement which started way back in the 20’s or 30’s and has evolved into a more organised, well run organisation ever since. The whole purpose was to get people to begin growing and become more self-sustainable by providing some or most of their houshold needs. Another reason for this practise was that it was intended to become a social occasion where neighbour met neighbour and also met strangers and this eventually evolved into a community where everyone became involved and as a result began to enjoy and have an improved quality of life in an outdoor envoirnment.
This practice grew over the years in terms of members and also in the area of the quality of gardening and has endured up to today as we speak. Not to confuse this, with community gardening, which is a totally different concept, yet the gardening exercise and experience is still the main focus of these two organisations. Community gardens are more or less, where the gardening is done on a collective basis and everyone can enjoy the fruits and produce of the whole effort on a fair usage policy. Allotment gardening is more individual and this is where people have their own plot or parcel of land and grow what they want, without interference from anyone.
How allotments grew in popularity;
The authorities who had the power to allocate and allow these allotments to flourish in all types of communities, gradually saw the importance of these to their neighbourhood, asserted a little control and introduced some guidelines on setting up these practices in their towns and cities. The local council who probably owned the land granted permission for these and asked for a minimal membership fee per family, just to keeps their books in order. The order of who got what and where was decided amicably and people just got on with their gardening tasks and did not interfere with who was above them or beside them or anywhere else in the allotment. In fact the opposite happened and the allotmenteers all came together and helped one another with planning, sowing setting, digging and any other business that was required to begin their gardening.
Children were then gradually allowed and were also introduced into the whole world of gardening and how stuff grew, how to water and tend to their vegetables and gardeing in general. Those that were unemployed were also encouraged to take part in these community incentives and was also seen as a means of getting them interested in an outdoor hobby or occupation. People who were infirm or had mobility issues were also encouraged to get involved as best they could and gradually wheelchair friendly allotments and community gardens were set up to cater for these people. Young people who had mild intelluctual difficulties were also introduced into this community as a means of educational therapy and were shown the basics of gardening, which, was deemed to be an overwhelming succcess.
How did the allotments grow;
In the early days and up to today people are still using the original methods that they started with, which was to garden in an open plot, to make rows or drills for their vegetables and in some cases they used what they called ridges. The ridges were a mound of soil approx 3ft in width and were the length of their plot or allotment. We could say that these were a fore-runner to the raised beds that we use today. Also in the early years they had a ( 3 year ) rotational system in place which was religiously adhered to. This rotation consisted of alternating crops to different areas within their allotment, ie, having potatoes in a certain area in their first year, then root vegetables in that area the second year and in the third year have overground vegetables like peas, cabbages, tomatoes and so on.
If we look at the images above, we can see there is no rhyme nor reason to the layout and neither does there seem to be any borders or divisions, it looks to be all one garden plot, but still the system worked mainly because the people themselves found a way and a system to make it work. Within all that chaos, the allotments were a fantastic idea and are becomming more and more popular as we speak. In fact, in some inner city locations these garden plots are becomming a mainstay for people to get by and in a sense to survive, such is their social importance.
Introduction of raised beds to allotments;
Gradually the raised beds were introduced to allotments and today are becomming more and more a definitive way of bringing organisation and a sense of order to this great community. The raised beds are planned and constructed acccording to the alloted area and if we look at the above image we can see that there is a great structure to the way that these allotments now operate. All of the raised beds are nicely organised and structured, the walkway in between is dry, clean and solid underfoot. We can also see that its very easy to operate or push a wheelbarrow or even for wheelchair users to get around.
Yet still some people are slow to change and will still work the old system as they know what works for them and they don’t see a reason to change, it if its not broken. The allotmenteers built little sheds to keep their gardening tools and implements dry and out of the elemenets. The rainfall from these sheds was collected in barrels and this harvested rainwater went to irrigating their plants and crops. I have no doubt but, this raised bed system will also prevail in this envoirnment especially when the gardeners will see and understand the benefits of using this method, how easy they are to operate and maintain and moreover the quality of the produce that comes from using this method of gardening. Thanks again for dropping by, I hope you found this article interesting, feel free to use the comments box down below and we will reply to you promptly.
Happy gardening to all in the allotments,
“I’d love to see a new form of social security …
everyone taught how to grow their own;
fruit and nut trees planted along every street
parks planted out to edibles,
every high rise with a roof garden,
every school with at least one fruit tree
for every kid enrolled.”
― Jackie French,