National Allotments Week 2021 is seeing applications to rent allotments in the UK skyrocket after lockdown encouraged residents to turn to community gardening for some much-needed time outdoors in a safe environment where social distancing is easy to maintain.
But this year’s National Allotments Week not only celebrates the renewed interest in allotments due to the pandemic, but also the contribution allotments make to a sustainable future.
Plotting for the Future is the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners’ theme for 2021, so let’s take a look at how allotments benefit the environment, as well as how to get involved in Suffolk and Cambridge.
National Allotments Week promotes allotments as part of a healthy lifestyle, but this year it’s turning its focus to allotments as a way of boosting the well-being of the planet too.
The awareness week began in 2002 and has since touted the benefits of growing one’s own food and building communities of fellow “allotmenteers”.
Enthusiasts claim the popularity of allotments hasn’t been this high since the Second World War when the Grow for Victory campaign saw legions of green-fingered citizens take up allotment tending.
Allotments have provided a new lease of life for some communities, who have worked tirelessly turning muddy fields into thriving sites for residents to grow on.
For others, the tranquillity of the allotment has provided peace in a turbulent time; a place for families to work together to harvest vegetables for the dinner table.
But creating green spaces for people to grow fruit, vegetables and plants is also a big step towards a greener future.
It goes without saying that allotments also contribute to the biodiversity of an area. Allotments offer a place for local wildlife to flourish, from frogs and hedgehogs to birds and insects. These green spaces are especially important in urban areas where wildlife is constantly forced out of its natural habitat.
Allotments also tend to promote environmentally friendly practices such as composting and reusing rainwater.
There are 12 allotment sites across Cambridge, but if you had a specific one on mind, you might be looking at a bit of a wait…
On average, there are around 35 people waiting for an allotment in Cambridge. The most-requested allotment site is City Farm, with 106 residents on the waiting list, while Nine Wells has no one on standby at all.
To get yourself on the waiting list, apply directly via Cambridge City Council.
The best source of information on allotments in Suffolk is the Suffolk Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.
The society is made up of representatives from Suffolk allotment groups and can provide help and guidance for those wanting to start their own allotment in the area.
If it’s an allotment in West Suffolk you’re after, you’ll find plots in Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket.
Felixstowe has five different allotment sites, while Ipswich has 16, consisting of 2,100 plots covering 60 hectares. Facilities include a security fence with lockable gates, water supply and communal sheds.
Apply directly through the relevant council website.
One of the most useful resources at your disposal when starting out with an allotment is the community that’s literally all around you.
Fellow allotmenteers with more experience under their belts will be able to offer advice specific to the area, including soil types and how to keep away pests.
Here are a few more things you’ll need to bear in mind before you can sow your first seed…
You’ll likely make plenty of mistakes along the way, but that’s the beauty of a hobby that’s easy to get started with, yet difficult to master.
You’ll learn so much along the way and reap better and better harvests every year as you make new friends and get plenty of outdoor exercise.
Known as “black gold” in the gardening world, good quality compost can really make or break your allotment.
You might decide it makes sense to have two compost heaps, one at home where you can easily add food waste and one at the allotment site where you can make the most of the green and brown waste your plot of land produces.
The trick is to get a good mix of greens (nitrogen) and browns (carbon). You can experiment with different ratios to best suit your crops as you become more experienced at running your allotment.
And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a compost heap for your allotment. With a few pallet crates and some nails, you can build your own bin in no time at all.
If you’d rather not go the DIY route, get yourself a decent bin from Suffolk Recycles for just £10.
And if you have any compost leftover, offering your excess to fellow allotmenteers is a great way to build relationships in the community.
SunSkips recommends using as much green and brown waste as possible for composting as it’s not only a great fertilizer, it’s also the best option for the environment.
However, if you’ve got a lot of housekeeping to do, or you’ve inherited a plot that needs more TLC than a compost heap can handle, you may need to hire a skip to clear it.
Weeds, leaves, branches, grass, plants and crops are all suitable for getting rid of in a skip.
The skip you need for your allotment waste is dependent on the amount of waste you have. To make sure you hire the right skip for the job, consult our handy skip size guide, which tells you how many bags of allotment waste you can fit in each container.
Soil is also suitable for throwing away in a skip, but it’s an easily contaminable waste that should be kept separate from the rest so we can better recycle it at our site.
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If in doubt, give us a call on 01449 360 033 or 01223 976 543 so we can explain how best to load your soil waste (we can take care of your skip hire at the same time)
Fertilizers and other toxic chemicals cannot be loaded into a skip.
Running an allotment is a fun activity that families can do together. Children can learn more about where their food comes from while getting out in the fresh air and being helpful.
With allotment groups and societies ready to lend a helping hand to beginners this week, there’s never been a better time to reach out to your local allotment community and get stuck in.
Check your local waiting lists and get your name down today!
If you need help clearing any green waste from your allotment site, try SunSkips’ simple online skip hire booking platform so you can start enjoying your tidy plot as soon as possible.