Ever toyed with the idea of taking on an allotment? Wondering whether it’s a good idea when you’re juggling work, kids and family life too?
If you’ve ever googled ‘allotments’ and ‘kids’ the chances are you’ve come across some less than positive opinion, but that’s not my experience at all.
We’ve had our allotment for five years now, ever since the middle one was eight weeks old.
Having spent 18 months on the waiting list and living in a flat with no outside space of our own, it’s become our substitute garden and you’ll find us there most weekends throughout the summer and after school and work too.
Earlier this month I read lots of interesting posts during National Allotments Week, but nothing at all about taking on an allotment with kids. In fact, having searched online, I found little positive content about kids and allotments at all, so I thought I’d address the imbalance by sharing our own experience.
10 great reasons to take on an allotment with kids
1. An allotment is cheap as chips
If you don’t have a garden like us, an allotment is the perfect affordable alternative. We pay less than £40 a year for our half plot, giving us a little patch of outside space we wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
2. It’s not as much work as you think
You might think you don’t have the time to take on an allotment, but it can be as easy or hard as you make it. Admittedly you can literally watch the weeds grow between April and September, and if there’s a heatwave you do need to be on hand to water, but if you consider the time you have available to spend on your allotment when choosing what to plant it’s perfectly do-able. For example, we don’t grow tomatoes because we simply don’t have the time to water them every day, but we do grow sunflowers and courgettes which virtually thrive on neglect.
3. It doesn’t all have to be about row upon row of fruit and veg
Historically allotments were created to give the labouring poor land to grow their own food, but times are changing. With more and more of us living in flats and smaller houses more and more of us are using our allotments as gardens instead. At our allotment site you’ll find plots with summer houses complete with net curtains and seating areas with chimineas, surrounded by roses and dahlias and lavender like ours. There are no hard and fast rules: grow what makes you happy.
4. It gets them – and you – out in the great outdoors
Gardening is actually a great cardiovascular workout, whether you’re digging, weeding, planting or simply cutting the grass. Throw in vitamin D from the sun and you’ll be positively glowing!
5. It teaches them about the birds and the bees
I don’t mean in that way, I mean actual birds and bees. Allotments are often wildlife havens, attracting bees and insects, birds and rabbits and even uninvited guests like badgers and foxes. My three love nothing more than watching a bee disappear inside a foxglove or finding a ladybird to inspect.
6. You can do your bit for the environment
By planting bee and wildlife friendly plants and flowers you can do your bit to support the eco systems of everything from butterflies and ladybirds to bees and snails. We’ve got a wildlife friendly bed complete with a hedgehog house and bug hotel, all put together by the kids.
7. It’ll fire their imaginations
As well as our wildlife friendly garden our kids have also created a fairy garden with toadstools, a wishing well and resident gnome. They truly believe fairies visit in the night time!
8. It saves on your food bill
I shudder to think how much money we’d spend on soft fruit over the summer if we didn’t grow our own strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Plant wisely (we’ve got three types of strawberry which fruit from late May to late September) and you won’t need to buy supermarket soft fruit at all.
9. The fires & water fights
Because life doesn’t get more exciting than making a fire and jumping through a hose when you’re little. We burn all the cuttings, raspberry canes and dead leaves over the winter in a dustbin incinerator and the kids love it – the whoops of excitement when it gets going are priceless. Ditto when the hose comes out in summer.
10. You’ll meet other like-minded families
The chances are you’ll find other families with kids like yours when you take on an allotment – and it won’t be long before they make friends. Our three love playing with the kids on the next door plot when we’re all there at the same time. They go off on ‘fact finding’ missions with my phone and take pictures of things they like on other people’s plots – leaving me to enjoy the peace and quiet!
Have you ever had an allotment, or thought about taking one on? Have I planted a seed? I’d love to hear your thoughts!