A national obsession: My allotment and me

All around the country, people are discovering the joys of eating their own home-grown produce

All across the country this weekend, gardeners will be heading to their allotments to check on their fruits, flowers and vegetables. As Britain celebrates National Allotments Week it seems that most of the country either wants to get an allotment, has one, or knows someone who does. The allotment is no longer just the territory of old men pottering about in Wellington boots. Over the past few years, growing your own has taken off everywhere, with many allotment associations now running waiting lists for many years. Young and old are donning their gardening gloves and digging in their heels for a lifetime of allotment gardening. Why do they do it? Perhaps it's the fashion for organics; more recent owners may cite the recession. Most say it's for good food, great exercise and a sense of community. For others it's a great day out. Whatever their reasons, allotment owners this week are likely to be congratulating themselves on their good sense and eating their fresh produce.

Rachel Hawkes

The self-employed gardener, 39, from Cambridgeshire has had an allotment for five months. "I am already cooking a lot of things we have grown, and we love the freshness. I have runner beans, onions and marrows coming out of my ears. The best thing is all the friends I've made doing this. It gives you back that sense of village community. It has been a really good investment from every angle. A lot of people have also said that they are toning up and losing weight – I have lost two stone since starting. I only wish I had done it sooner."

Peter Horrocks

The retired manager, and his wife Elizabeth, from Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, are in their sixties and have had their allotment since 1979. "We started our allotment to relax. I worked 12-hour days so it was good to go to the allotment in the evenings and let my mind go into neutral. Now we are both retired and spend a lot of time working together. We usually spend at least four half-days there. After 30 years, it has allowed us to meet people from our community we wouldn't have met otherwise. It's extremely social and we probably spend more time chatting than working. We have 70 different kinds of fruit and veg growing throughout the year. It would be fair to say that we are pretty self-sufficient. When the grandchildren visit they can't get enough of it. They get to pick stuff and play about. It's really good for us too – it's the best way we know to keep healthy."

Peter Merrick

The retired lecturer, 65, from Liverpool, has had his allotment for around 23 years. "I have three allotments next to each other. I grow flowers, fruit and vegetables. And it has made me more of a cook – you want to do justice to the vegetables you're growing. You also get exercise, fresh air and become a part of a community of people from all walks of life. It can be frustrating sometimes – this year I lost my tomatoes in a storm. All you can do is shrug your shoulders and get on with it. But it's incredibly therapeutic. I've never met anyone with a negative view about allotments."

Billy Crook

The 12-year-old from Southwark, south London, has been working on an allotment with Bermondsey's Community Space Challenge/Youth Inclusion Project for over a month.

"I used to get into trouble with the police. When the youth offenders service suggested I try out a gardening project I thought it might be boring. Now I love it! I used to think vegetables came only from supermarkets. Now you can plant a seed and see it grow. My favourite school subject is science, and working on the allotment makes me want to work harder at it."

Badji Davies

The carpenter from Birkenhead has had an allotment for five years. "I wish we'd got an allotment earlier. It started out because I went to an open day, and since two of our grandkids need special diets we thought it would be good to grow our own food. It isn't unusual for us to be there for 12 hours a day. We have a tree house and a bakery on our allotment. Sometimes when we have a barbecue there we'll have 30 family members around. When the allotments have an open day everyone always comes to look at ours. We can say, look, this is what is possible if you work together. It's a real family affair."

Alison Charnock

The 37-year-old personal assistant from London has had her present allotment for nearly five years but has had allotments before. "My husband and I often work on it together, or take shifts to look after Joshua, two, who has his own little patch to mess in. It is very productive and rewarding. I don't get to spend as much time there as I would like. I am expecting another baby in December. I do think the food tastes better. It is hard keeping on top of the weeds but it's worth it. Joshua won't eat supermarket stuff now, only mummy's carrots."

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried