Time for non-gardeners to reap the shared harvests bounty
We're nearly at the end of this year's National Allotment Week, but the message for this year is one that should continue throughout the growing season and into the rest of our lives.
Every day in this season of plenty is a reason to celebrate having an allotment (or an area to grow fruit or vegetables) but the National Allotment Society (NAS) has chosen to focus on the shared harvest from plots.
We’re bang in the middle of that time when plants produce more crops than plot-holders can freeze, pickle or preserve.
This is when non-gardeners get to reap the bounty of a glut of plums, runner beans, courgettes or tomatoes, usually our friends, family and neighbours.
Many plot-holders also share their produce with worthy causes, including donating crops to food banks. You can read about how allotment groups all over the country share excess fruit and veg with their local food banks.
Washbrook Allotments in Leicester make donations to its local food bank. The practice began in 2016, following a chance meeting between a committee member and the food bank manager through the National Gardens Scheme.
The bank provides bread loaf trays for surplus produce, and these are collected every Sunday from the society’s trading hut, where donating has become an integral part of allotment life. If your society would like to join in, email email@example.com with details of your food bank donation activities.
Growing, cooking, eating and sharing tasty home-grown food are not the only benefits of allotment life. By opening up sites and letting the community know what a valuable contribution allotments make to public health and well-being helps to protect them by getting the backing of the wider community.
National Allotments Week started in 2002 as a way of raising awareness of allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, grow their own food, develop friendships and bolster communities.
The NAS aims to protect, promote and preserve allotments and everyone can do their part:
Allotment associations: Protect your site, register it as a community asset.
Allotment Federations: Keep allotments in the public eye, make sure they are mentioned in the Local Plan and lobby your councillors and MPs.
Councils: Preserve and value your allotment service – it has the potential to deliver some of your public health targets.
Plot-holders: Join the National Allotment Society and support your regional allotment network.
Aspiring plot-holders: Don’t be put off by a long wait – sign up for a plot now; without waiting lists, allotment authorities can’t assess demand.
To find out more, visit www.nsalg.org.uk/news-events-campaigns/national-allotments-week/
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