How We Got Our Hands on An Allotment

 

The first plot offered

When we moved back to Wales (to my hometown in fact) from Plymouth, one thing that was hard to come by was a big house with a big garden. You either had big house tiny garden, or big garden small house. The whole village was built by miners for mining families and so the houses were all 2up 2 down designed terraced houses, with a few exceptions. As the village grew and became a town, many people lost their gardens to more houses. This meant that the once long gardens were turned into two small gardens with a house at either end.

When house buying, we had our budget and our ideas of what house we wanted but sadly had to come to a compromise. We wanted a garden big enough for the kids to play in but also a house to call a home (and big enough for 4 people eventually – as we only had sprout 1 at the time). We chose a bay fronted period property, which, while spacious on the inside, the garden was very small (think courtyard). There is a sizable garage that takes up most of the garden but this was also a great selling point as somewhere to keep the tools and car.

We decided on this house as it’s one street away from the river and very close to a large rugby field, park and playground and also we have the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal behind the house. The house is nestled in a deep valley between two mountains and the views are to die for. We just couldn’t resist. Sadly, the north-facing garden is little more than 6 square meters. Just big enough for some small planters and a playhouse for the kids. (this was before sprout number 2 was born)

So as soon as we moved, we looked around for nearby allotments and put our names down on the list. Years went by and we heard nothing. Then my son started to go to a childminder who just so happened to be the treasurer for the allotments we’d put our name down for. We honestly did not know this at the time, it just came up in conversation on one morning drop off. I mentioned that we’d bee on the list for nearly 3 years at the point, to be met with “oh that’s normal, people usually wait much longer”. I was devastated. I’d already been 3 years without a garden, how much longer would I need to wait!

I busied myself by building planters in our tiny garden and having great success at growing small amounts of vegetables, but I yearned for more space.

The Plot we chose

Time went on and while badgering the Childminder on morning, she said that we were slowly moving up the list. Slowly, very very slowly. Allotments aren’t given up easily. Many people on that particular site had been there for decades. Sadly though, at the allotment generation age, they become less able to work their plots and the time comes where they have to give them up. It kind of felt like we were waiting for some poor old soul to pass away before we could jump on their once well tended plot, but this is actually the sad reality of allotments. They’re not handed over lightly.

More time went on until last summer, when the childminder announced we were at the top of the list, so the next available plot would be ours.

It wasn’t until October 2017 that I was asked to visit the plots. There were 2 likely plots that would be given up that Autumn and I could get first pick.

The two plots were similar in that they hadn’t been worked for over a year, maybe 2. They were unloved, overgrown and sad looking. The first plot was a full perch that had an old chicken coup at the end which someone was already using for their chickens (kindly agreed by the previous tenant) and the second was another full perch but this one had a large greenhouse and a small shed.

The greenhouse sold it for me!

The old chap who once looked after the plot had not worked it for a year or two but had left a lovely greenhouse filled with pots of all sizes and a shed full of tools. Which we were allowed to keep as long as we made a donation to the allotment committee. I jumped at the chance. It would have cost far more to kit ourselves out with the necessary garden tools and these trusty old spades and forks were just what we needed.

After nearly 5 years of waiting, we finally had a plot! For the breathtaking sum of £11 a year.

We set to work in November 2017 clearing and making good the very well looked after soil. It was black, crumbly soil that had obviously been well looked after.

Our allotment journey had begun.

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