A parcel of land that is made accessible for the individual, non-commercial gardening, or the cultivation of food plants is referred to as a community garden in North America and referred to as an allotment in the United Kingdom. During World Wars I and II, the United States saw a rise in the popularity of community gardens, which at the time were referred to as "Victory Gardens." They indirectly assisted the war effort and the food scarcity that came with it. In addition, they were thought to be a civil morale booster since gardeners were able to feel powerful by their input of labor and then rewarded by the product that was grown. This resulted in victory gardens being an integral part of everyday life on the home front, and the practice continues to this day. In recent months, the idea of "Victory Gardens" and the particular word "Victory Gardens" has made a comeback due to the global pandemic, which has led many people all over the world to begin cultivating their own food. We speak a lot about growing your own food on your windowsill, in a sunny corner in your bedroom, or on your front porch, but maybe you're itching to go all in, but you don't have any outside space in your house. If this is the case, you can still produce your own food indoors. There's a good chance that what you need is a plot in a communal garden.
We had a conversation with Rachel, also known as Rachels allotment, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant Science and has been working as an allotment holder for more than a year now. Her professional concentration is on ensuring food security in underdeveloped regions of the world; but, on her Instagram account, she discusses methods in which every one of us may participate in producing our own food, cutting down on the number of kilometers traveled by food, and gaining knowledge as we go. Continue reading for all of the information, guidance, and inspiration you need to take the plunge!
Rachel explains that in the United Kingdom, allotment gardens are small parcels of land used exclusively for agricultural production. You can rent these plots from either the local government or from private landowners. The plot is determined by the local site, and you have the option of purchasing an individual plot or participating in a communal plot. However, if you don't have the time to tend to your own plot, there are community plots that you may utilize instead. The idea is precisely the same in North America, although a community garden is a term that is most commonly used to refer to such a space. Find an individual or communal plots to cultivate your own fruits, vegetables, and other foods. This option is also available.
Rachel starts out by pointing out the most obvious benefit, which is the ability to "produce your own fruit, veggies, and flowers!" It is powerful because you know that the food you eat does not travel for large distances from the farm to your plate, wasting energy and fuel along the way and contributing to pollution production. Rachel also brings out the fact that you have full knowledge of the chemical treatments (or lack thereof) that have been administered to your plants. Rachel finds that one of the most satisfying aspects of allotment gardening is the opportunity to network with other gardeners and gain knowledge from them. She also appreciates the positive effects that indoor gardening has on one's emotional well-being.
Rachel says that getting started with community gardening "may be a bit stressful at first," particularly if the plot you acquire has been mostly unused and is consequently overrun with weeds and other problems. "Starting your community gardening journey might be a bit intimidating at first." “During my first year working with the plot, I focused on cultivating a smaller portion of the overall space, and in the fall, I increased the size of my vegetable producing beds.”
So, what would be the most effective approach to get started? Make a plan. That's the first order of business. It is important to know where you want to erect more permanent structures like greenhouses, polytunnels, or sheds, as well as to identify your basic soil type (sand, clay, chalk, etc.), and locate the sunny and shady spots of your plot, which will determine what you should grow where. Rachel says, "It is important to know where you want to erect more permanent structures like greenhouses, polytunnels, or sheds." "However, do not let this discourage you! It's all a learning process, and the advantage of having a community garden is that you have the support of the whole neighborhood!" You may get aid from the people in your community or through Instagram accounts like Rachel's. Both options are available.
Think of it like you would any other garden in your house or backyard: you cultivate what does well in your zone and, depending on the kind of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that your family consumes the most. Rachel says that "the duration of the growing season is the primary limitation in the UK; however, you can easily prolong that by planting inside of a greenhouse, polytunnel, or cold frame." It is imperative that you consider the composition of your plot's soil while selecting vegetable seeds to sow on your allotment. Rachel's garden is on clay soil, and despite her best efforts, she has not cultivated carrots successfully. On the other hand, she has had great success growing beans. Peas, maize, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, sunflowers, lettuce, radishes, broccoli, and carrots would be at the top of my important grow list for first-year allotmenteers to try out. Rachel suggests that you grow salad greens and radishes, as well as herbs such as rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme if you are searching for crops that mature quickly (staples that require little attention).
Peas, maize, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, sunflowers, lettuce, radishes, broccoli, strawberries, and carrots would be at the top of my important grow list for first-year allotmenteers to attempt. – Rachel
Rachel's confirmation that herbs are among her allotment's most successful crops was very reassuring to hear because, as is obvious, we are huge fans of growing our own medicinal and culinary herbs. She gives you so much fresh rosemary that you can use it in soups and stews, or you can dry it for use during the next season. She believes that plants like rosemary can survive even in the dead of winter. Pineapple sage is Rachel's personal favorite because of its rapid growth and sweet aroma, but you might also like to try any of these other types of herbs:
Grows well in containers or on windowsills and produces delicious pesto.
A prolific herb, but you must take precautions to limit it because it grows so quickly.
An adaptable herb that is delicious in tea and also works well as a garnish.
A quick search on Facebook should be able to turn up some results for community gardening groups in which you might be interested in participating. If you reside in New York City, you have access to an abundance of opportunities to participate in community gardens. Find some land and investigate the grants offered in your community if you are interested in purchasing your own individual plot or urban greenhouse allotment. If you are interested in owning either of these, you will need to have your own plot. There are a few groups that are interested in providing assistance to community gardens. Additionally, make an effort to get the support of your neighbors. Find some property in your region that receives a lot of suns and would work well as a garden place if you can get your hands on it. Find out who the land's owner is, and then take all of the information you uncovered to the tax assessor's office in your county. Make contact with the land's owner to inquire about the possibility of establishing a community garden on the property. Be sure to bring up the benefits that the garden will bring to the neighborhood, as well as the fact that those who tend the garden will be responsible for keeping the area tidy and free of weeds (this saves landowners from maintaining the site or paying city weed abatement fees). Find out more information about the procedure as a whole, and get your loved ones, friends, and neighbors engaged! It has the potential to be a fun initiative that will bring the whole town together.
Rachel, a resident of the UK, says there is a sign-up process to be placed on a waiting list for a plot of land. It is in your best interest to get your name on the list as soon as possible since, depending on where you live, you could have to wait for a number of years. "Indoor gardening is a terrific way to express your enthusiasm for growing, but on a smaller scale while you wait," Rachel says, referring to the fact that garden space is at a real premium in many regions surrounding London in particular.