This spring has been extraordinary. According to met office data, just three years have had more Sun that 2020 so far. And Summer will just to pop up! During the lockdown, sure that many people have thought they would like to spend more time outdoors. With an allotment in Greater Manchester, you could do it. Maybe now that one out of five brits trying a vegan diet is the moment to grow your own food.
Grow your own food in your allotment in Greater Manchester
In the UK, the tradition of gardening is deep back in the time. In fact, the first legal mention to provide public allotments was 200 years ago. Nowadays the councils provide places where people can grow their vegs & fruit. Manchester council has 40 places, Salford 39 and Trafford 37, for instance.
It has a symbolic annual fee of around £100 you can get an allotment in Greater Manchester -It may change according to the council- water bill included. Nonetheless, there are waiting lists, and this year, maybe due to the lockdown have been more applications than ever. Some allotments have to wait for up to 2 years.
Janet Long, Allotment Officer in Trafford said it has been a “massive increase” in the interest for catching one plot.
“From my point of view, the allotments have been a lifesaver during the lockdown as people have been allowed to go to their plot”, although they were advised to follow social distance recommendations.
It is thought for own consumption and not for selling, therefore it has some limits. For instance, Salford rules it to six dwarf fruit trees, 10 hens and 10 rabbits. Plus all veggies you can plant in the space provided. A full allotment is 250 square metres; some places have half-allotment available.
Benefits on you plots
Gardening has many benefits, and not only in the kitchen. During the lockdown, the government has considered going to your plot as your daily exercise. Also, according to Gardena, a company specialising in gardening, many studies have linked outdoor activities with mental and physical wellbeing.
“Sometimes referred to as ‘green therapy’ spending time outdoors in the fresh air, caring for your garden and learning new skills are all positive steps you can take to keep occupied”.
Although it is likely that just one slot will not stop going to shops, sure it will increase the quality of your ingredients. In most of the cases, fruits & plants grow without industrial pesticides and herbicides.
The councils accept one application per household to get an allotment in Greater Manchester. It can be a perfect activity to do with your housemates or your family. Kids may socialise with other kids in the area while learning the basics of the food system.
Walk before you run, gardening before growing
For some beginners deal with a whole allotment -250 square metres- can be too much. What to plant, what tools will you need or when is the right time to harvest are some questions that not everybody could answer even with Youtube tutorials.
Mark Firth has more than 20 years of experience in community projects. Recently he has set a community garden Growing Togetherness in Salford where people can join to have a taste in gardening.
“People who want to learn about horticulture can come a learn the very basic on the communal lands and then we can put them on the way to get their own piece of allotments”.
There are 26 plots in this particular garden, and usually are two or three people on each one. At the moment, due to Coronavirus lockdown, there are two sessions; on Wednesday and Saturday from 13:00 to 16:00. The community provide tools, although you should wear appropriate clothing.
In this garden, gather people “all over the world”. With up to 46 people is a perfect occasion for socialising, know other neighbours and create community spirit. One of the main benefits of gardening is to be focused on physical work, so we can avoid thinking in our daily problems. Mark call it a small “sanctuary”.
Plus at the end is possible to do a great feast. At the moment they have pumpkins and courgettes what should be ready at the end of August. Along the year there are several harvests times. Therefore, always there is something to plant.
Mark invite everyone to come: “If you want to try to come and have a chat”. Who knows, maybe in the next friends’ lunch you will be eating your delicious veggies.