Take any train journey and at some point you will see a patchwork of allotments fly past the window but how do you get one yourself?
There are two types of allotment sites – private and statutory. Statutory sites are run by the local authority, usually via their Parks and Leisure Department. They should also have a list of privately run sites in the area. If they don’t head to social media and ask people. You can also look at an online map of your area and look for open spaces which could be allotment sites.
The first port of call is to contact the local authority and ask for an application form. They will take your name, address, telephone number and email address. The application form may also ask you to nominate 3 sites in your borough. When your name reaches the top of the list they will contact you – but remember, it is up to you to keep these contact details up-to-date with them. They will only attempt to contact you a few times and if your email is bouncing back or telephone number is not long available, they will quickly move onto the next person on the list.
I’ve heard stories of people being on waiting lists for over 10 years. If you are serious about taking on an allotment it is up to you to demonstrate how keen you are. You could keep contacting the local authority every season to ask where you are on the waiting list but there are more practical ways.
Visit the allotment site you wish to have a plot on. Most sites are a hive of activity on the weekend or weekday mornings. Visit the site and ask to speak to the site secretary or manager. Just making physical contact will help them put a face to the name on the waiting list.
Some sites run two waiting lists – one the council provides and their own. Each site and local authority are different. So if you are keen then at least give it a shot to cover all basis. Typically the waiting time to get an allotment is around 5 years but it can be a few months if you are seen as ‘keen’.
A good site will usually run regular Community Days or Working Parties where plot holders are asked to help keep the allotment site clean. This can be by collecting litter or fixing broken boundary fences or erecting a new community hut. Even before you have been allocated an allotment you should offer to lend a hand. This is a great opportunity to meet your prospective plot holders and the people in charge. Allotment sites are crying out for people who regularly volunteer and this will go in your favour when a new plot becomes available. But be honest with yourself, don’t be someone who stops volunteering once you have secured an allotment. Keep your hand in and help the community. A successful allotment site is down to its members. Many sites fall into disrepair due to aging committee members so it is your duty to lend a hand and help preserve the allotment site.