Allotments, the bargain of the recession

There was a time when allotments were a common feature in towns and cities, especially in the UK where it formed a strategic part of Britain’s recovery after World War II. If you take the train through the countryside in the UK you will still see some extremely well tended plots that have been there for many years. Home gardening and allotments were also an extremely important factor in the USA where, in 1945, 20 million members of the public produced 45 per cent of the nation’s vegetable requirements. Recently Michelle Obama put on her wellies and, along with a group of children, opened an organic plot in the grounds of the White House.

For people in cities or towns the possibility of having a piece of arable ground to grow veggies is a great idea, although some of the benefits are more subtle, for example if you are new to gardening then you will have fellow allotment neighbours who will give advice, it’s a great way to get the kids out into the countryside, and of course it can be very satisfying. Needless to say it will provide food for your kitchen table that tastes wonderful and will have cost only a few cents.

I had been planning to write this article about how to start growing your own veggies, herbs, and salads when I noticed a sign on a local telegraph pole advertising plots for lease. The annual cost is only €100 and for that you get a plot which in my humble opinion is bigger than most people would need, in fact when I called out to see the plots they seem to me to be the bargain of 2009. There is a six acre field available and the owner will lease you whatever size of plot you require. I enquired about the soil condition and was assured that it has been ploughed and rotovated and is a good 12” deep. There is a pile of farmyard manure to one side and plot owners can help themselves for free. As he has just started the project you can choose your location and size, but at this price I reckon he will be oversubscribed before long.

The contact telephone number is (087 ) 6283517 and the plots are located approximately three miles from Craughwell. It is possible to drive from Wellpark to the field in less than 20 minutes. I hope many more small farmers around the country will take up this idea and consider leasing out a few acres. It can be a bit of regular income for the farmer and it’s a great way for the allotment owners to meet some like minded people.

From my initial bit of research into the subject many towns and cities are starting projects like this, and if there is one thing Ireland has plenty of that is land sitting idle. Richard Corrigan is starting a new series called Corrigan’s City Farm, working with 24 volunteers in the centre of Cork to produce their families’ vegetable needs. This could be a great way to help any budding plot owners to get ideas and structure their plantings.

If you do go down this road, then be sure to enquire from the landowner as to what kind of vegetables or fruits the land favours. My top list of easy to grow items are: Lettuce, scallions, radishes, coriander, parsley, chives, potatoes, onions, carrots, raspberries, blackcurrants, and strawberries. If you intend putting up a little glasshouse or ‘plastic house’ try some tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

If you know of any more contacts with plots for lease please send me an e-mail at [email protected]

Note: I would like to correct an error in an article from two weeks ago, the correct web address for the excellent steak house in Dublin is www.buenosairesgrill.ie Finally, this Sunday April 26 will see the monthly Clarinbridge market in full swing again and a chance to sample some good homemade and home grown produce.

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