DIGGING in to an allotment can benefit both your health and your wallet.
Allotments have a long history, with evidence for their existence stretching back to to Anglo-Saxon times.
But the system recognised today has its roots in the 19th century, when land was given over to the labouring poor for the provision of food growing. In 1908 an act of parliament placed a duty on local authorities to provide allotments.
During the Second World War allotments were particularly important in helping feed the nation, and they have remained popular ever since.
This week is National Allotment Week, and Alveston and Tiddington Allotment & Gardens Association (ATAGA) are encouraging more people to have a go at keeping an allotment.
The number of plots available at the ATAGA patch has increased as overgrown and unused areas have been cleared and now there are some 60 plot holders.
An allotment costs £31 a year to rent, and the 250 square metre plot is ideal for providing for a family of four to grow all manner of fruit and vegetables – from apples an peaches, to beetroot and cauliflowers.
With many watching the purse strings, the character of the allotment community is changing. Once thought to be an activity for the retired, now people of all ages are giving up supermarket produce in favour of getting their hands dirty and growing their own.
Keeping an allotment also offers a good form of exercise in the fresh air. Even in the quieter winter months when there members band together to address maintenance needs of the plots.
Phil Taylor, ATAGA Lettings Officer, said: “It was recently suggested that doctors should be able to prescribe gardening to patients and there is no doubt that working outdoors contributes to the feeling of well-being.
“We have been pleased to welcome the NHS Community Adult Mental Health Team to their new plot. Transition Stratford has also taken a plot which will partly facilitate the sorting and processing of local unharvested fruit.”
For anyone interested in taking up an allotment, there is a waiting list but as September draws to a close and the tenancy of the plots is renewed, several often become available.
Visit www.alvestontiddingtonallotments.wordpress.com or call 01789 268301 for more information.