The UK is experiencing a boom in allotment gardening – and shocking waiting times to get an allotment as a result.
New research shows that if you want to create a kitchen garden and grow your own veg on an allotment, you must prepare yourself for some unprecedented waiting times. We're not talking weeks. And we're not even talking months.
The research*, which is based on a Freedom of Information Request, reveals just how scarce a resource a communal plot of gardening land is in many parts of the country.
Unsurprisingly, the worst waiting times are in London, with the borough of Camden reporting waiting lists of 6,690 days – which is a wait of over 17 years. Things aren't much better in East Lothian Scotland, where you'll be waiting for 15 years for an allotment. Waiting lists of over 10 years are being reported in Rochdale, Ards and North Down, and London's Islington and Richmond boroughs.
Even the peaceful Welsh borough of Monmouthshire has allotment waiting lists of over eight years. That's a long time to wait if you're keen to have a space where you can learn how to grow garlic, carrots and beets.
These long waiting times are, perhaps, not so surprising when the sheer number of people waiting – over 100,000 – is taken into account. The number of people who have gone onto allotment waiting lists has gone up by 200 per cent, which seems like a direct extension of the overall rise in demand for everything gardening during the pandemic.
It may also be that the areas with the longest waiting lists have more of a tradition of allotment gardening, with people more aware of the pleasures and benefits of communal gardening for physical and mental health, to say nothing of the opportunity to talk to other people in a safe way outside.
On the positive side, waiting lists aren't quite as long as two decades everywhere in the country. If you wanted an allotment in London's borough of Croydon, for example, you could get an allotment within 18 to 24 months.
If you are very keen on allotment gardening, being able and willing to travel a bit further afield from where you live may just bring you close to the dream of creating your very own small vegetable garden ideas.
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Anna writes about real estate, interior design, and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications in the US and the UK. Before embarking on her writing career, Anna taught English at university level and is the author of a book called London Writing of the 1930s. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.
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