Real Men Sow

Can I Sell My Allotment Produce?

can i sell my allotment produceI’ve grown far too much curly kale this year. I did this because I really love it, but now I’ve got a whole row of spare dwarf kale going begging.

I wanted to pick my kale to see if that would make it shoot again, and I didn’t like seeing it all go to waste.  I can’t eat it all, and I had been wondering if I could sell this surplus. Today I set up a little stall in my front garden.

Saving Money
I harvested 500g of kale, which is about £3 worth in the supermarket, and I split the kale in to six bagfuls. I thought that if I charged a quid a bag, I’d make a nice little sum to go towards some more seeds. After all, this is the year of spreadsheets and cash saving!

Is It Legal?
Legally, I think I’d be okay. In the Allotments Act 1922, there is a general ban on any “trade or business” taking place on the allotment, and by definition, an allotment should be ‘wholly or mainly cultivated for the production of vegetable or fruit crops for consumption by the occupier or his family’.

So I can’t set up a market garden, but can I sell my surplus? Geoff Stokes, secretary of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG), said recently that ‘there seems to be no justification in preventing a tenant from selling or otherwise disposing of ‘surplus’ produce as long as he is not using the plot by way of trade or business.’

Some allotments do have rules in their constitutions to prevent selling produce, but the Burnham plots don’t seem to forbid it. Mind you, there was a right rumpus in the local paper last year when the committee stopped one plotholder from putting in a polytunnel because they thought he might be doing it for commercial reasons.

In the Spirit of Things?
Even if selling my surplus is legal, is it really in the spirit of things? I know I’m not suggesting some massive business venture flogging tonnes and tonnes of curly kale, but one of the best things about allotments is that they provide somewhere where there is no pressure to grow the most or be the best. Every day, the plots run on favours, and plotholders sharing not only knowledge but seeds, plants and surplus veg.

I’ve been given surplus calabrese, red cabbage, celeriac and squash seedlings; spare marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and passed on globe artichoke plants, butternut squashes and sticks of rhubarb, amongst loads of other produce. If we all started taking this stuff home and selling it to passers by, rather than leaving it at the allotment gate, would this spirit die?

Giving it Away…
In the end, I decided to sit on the fence and give my surplus away. This is a cheery blog, after all. I did put a little note with the web address though. If I’m not making any cash, it’d be nice to increase my readership…

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4 Comments

  1. AnonymousFebruary 27, 2011 at 8:41 pmReply

    Shame you couldn’t have made a few bucks to buy some more allotment resources! But good on you for being so generous!

  2. RonnieFebruary 27, 2011 at 9:02 pmReply

    I admire your spirit – well done giving away your hard graft. I hope that those who have a glut of berries and summer veg remember you when the time comes. Isn’t this how bartering started? A mutual benefit in exchanging goods and services rather than cash. It seems annoying you can set up a stall outside your home to sell but not in the lottie, I suppose I can understand the rule you grow veg etc for your own use but every little helps. Maybe you could do a Nigel Slater and have a cookin at the allotment?

    • Jono

      JonoFebruary 27, 2011 at 9:14 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Ronnie.

      Great point about bartering starting this way. Have a few barters going on a minor scale, like swapping jam for florists bucket with my florist. Swap rabbits for fish with a farmer friend of mine, but unfortunately for them, they’re much better at shooting rabbits than I am at catching fish!

      Can understand why selling produce is discouraged in some places, especially with the whole Dig For Victory history.

  3. Tracy BoseFebruary 28, 2011 at 1:26 pmReply

    Good for you Jono – I love the sign on your gate too! We had the usual surfeit of courg….hey, turn around and they’re marrows last year. We put them into those cardboard wine carriers you get given at supermarkets and left them near the gate with a ‘Help yourself’ sign. A few friends have been asking if there is any chance of veg boxes this year – the barter thing keeps coming to mind.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.

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