A 45% spike in the interest in obtaining information about urban allotments during the coronavirus outbreak accentuates 6-18 month waiting lists, according to the National Allotment Society (NAS).
There are an estimated 330,000 allotment plots today in Britain, the vast majority of which are the responsibility of local councils. The National Trust has also provided many sites.
NAS recommends that authorities provide 20 plots per 1000 households. For 20 years, NAS has been promoting National Allotments Week (10th – 16th August 2020).
Canvassing of 500 councils by the NAS with 150 responding in April 2020, indicated that 40% of them had seen a “significant increase in applications to the waiting list”, with a 300% increase in one case.
According to the APSE:
*The average waiting time for an allotment plot is 6-18 months according to 51% of council respondents.
*Just 12% of council respondents could guarantee a plot within 6 months.
*69% of councils responding had 100-400 people on a waiting list for an allotment compared to 75% in 2018.
*49% stated that over 18 months waiting time was the average.
Rather than responsibility for allotment space purely being placed on local councils, The Black Farmer, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, says: “The Government, Ministry of Defence, Church of England all own vast swathes of land and could be doing a lot more to welcome people from diverse urban cultures – but particularly black people – into allotments and ultimately into the countryside”. Also, overseas companies own 279,523 acres of land.
“Urban allotments provide a fantastic onramp into farming, functioning as ‘Farming Lite’ for young people who might like to dip their toe in”.
Emmanuel-Jones says: “Tending to my father’s allotment in Birmingham, aged 11 years, I made a promise to myself that I’d own a farm one day. To me, that small green patch was an oasis and an opportunity to escape from the cramped two-up, two-down terraced house I shared with my family of 11. It took 30 years of hard graft – from leaving school aged 16, to the army. As a child of the Windrush generation, it means something to own and tend land”.
“Gatekeepers of pastoral Britain have the power to make a difference and it’s time they were challenged to do so”.
Echoing the NAS, Emmanuel-Jones believes central government should start seeing allotments as part of the answer to national food security and acknowledging the valuable role that they play in raising public health and well-being.
For more information on the NAS visit: www.nsalg.org.uk