halve your plot

Would You Halve Your Plot to Reduce Waiting Lists?

Yesterday, the BBC reported on Windsor and Maidenhead Council’s plans to auction off new allotment plots on eBay, as a way of reducing waiting lists.

I debated this in my head as to whether it meant that the wealthy members of Maidenhead’s waiting list would be able to bump their way up, or perhaps the luxury plots, complete with shed and greenhouse, were so big that several families might be able to club together and secure some growing space, making the whole thing really cost-effective.

Once this all proved too much for my little brain (that’s quick, by the way), I moved on to whiling away a few minutes of my lunch hour researching waiting lists on Google (in case you didn’t know, they’re big), and stumbled across a novel idea from Eastbourne Borough Council.

Would I Give Up Half My Plot?
They’re asking current plotholders to consider giving up half their allotment to reduce the waiting list. As I supped my cup of tea, I began pondering again. Would I be prepared to do this?

I’m not sure of the size of the waiting list at the Burnham plots, but I do know that there are some people who work 3 and 4 full size plots. I’m sure they’re lovely people and work their allotment really hard, but I can’t help asking myself why on earth you’d need that much land?

I’d like to think that I’d be happy to give up half my allotment to a newbie. Getting as many people as possible growing their own fruit and veg was the reason this great British tradition came into existence, after all.

No – I’ve Worked Hard and Spent Money!
Yet in the back of my mind, there’s a voice that says no. It’s my plot, I’ve worked really hard over the past 4 years to get it to a stage where it is fertile, organized and producing. I’ve invested in fruit bushes and raspberry canes that fill a third of the area – if I gave up the half of the plot that doesn’t contain this, I’d be left with little room for my veg.

What if I don’t get on with my neighbours? What if they don’t weed, or the plot gets overgrown? Would it upset me to see the land go fallow again?

But What About My Unused Space?
On the other hand, there is the challenge of squeezing my veg into a small space though, and every year I worry about not having the room on my plot and wind up with empty space. Someone else could be making use of that bare soil…

We could share things too, to reduce cost, and I never use all my seeds in one year. It’d be great to be able to buy packets together and save a few quid.

What Do You Think?
Fortunately, I don’t think there’s any danger of the Burnham plots being so over-subscribed that I’ll have to make this decision any time soon. It’s a healthy debate to have with myself though, and I thought I’d throw it open to veg growing bloggers out there.

As for my final answer – well, as much as I’d like to think I’d help out, I’m kind of erring on the side of not sharing…

8 thoughts on “Would You Halve Your Plot to Reduce Waiting Lists?”

  1. It’s a big no here I’m afraid. What our association find is that about 60% of newbies think it’s just half an hour a week – like the telly – and they don’t actually get the plot started let alone productive. We have a waiting list of 15 but that drops rapidly when plots come available and people have gone off the idea or don’t show and then plots are taken off them when they aren’t worked. The practice of people having 2, 3 or more plots is the ONE thing I would question.

  2. I’m a maybe I share a plot with my next door neighbour and it works really well. We both look after our own patch but help each other out for holidays etc. Its also great when one of us has a surplus of veg or seedlings to share. So in some circumstances sharing works really well as we have a good relationship anyway. Being forced to share however, may not always work

  3. I have what I think is a half standard plot. I have noticed that there seems to be a culture of once you are in its easier to get more plots which does seem unfair on those on waiting lists. My half plot will produce more than enough for me and my 2 adult sons and I can’t understand why people need more. Our chair has 3 plots which he say he shares but I have never seen the lady he shares with. He has banks of raspberries, strawberries – he says he freezes lots. But then I wonder about that as for me the beauty of growing your own is to eat seasonally so I dont want to freeze loads but I digress.
    I dont think I would want to give up half my plot – I have put too much into it this year and to be honest having waited 5 odd years why cant the people now on the waiting list wait too it soon sorts out the serious ones from those who put their name down as a whim

  4. Well as you know I live MILES and MILES from my allotment (My brothers allotment :oX… ) Well I was at FAT club this week and got chatting to a lady who lives near me! I mentioned having picked 8 courgettes this week and she said “I know what you mean I’ve got loads coming through at the allotment” WOW I said “you have one too! I have a full one and cant cope!” “WOW” says she… “ME too! and Mine is a secret allotment that you’ve never heard of just round the corner from where we both live!”…. think I’m on a winner here…. How to tell the brother… :o( Ahhhh sod him, he’s not helped me at all on his OWN allotment! Sweet!

  5. As somebody who is completely unqualified to vote, I’m going to say “yes”.

    I’m looking at my own small veggie garden and how it’s such a mess again (lots of failures this year which I’ll blame on the heat), and I think I’d gladly give half to somebody who put some effort in.

    As for the “neglect” argument, are there rules applied to full allotments? For instance Jono, if you decided to leave your plot unplanted next year and it became a weedy mess, would there be repercussions? Whatever rules apply to full plot owners should apply to the new half-plot owners too.

    As I said, it’s easy for me to judge since I’m far removed from the reality of the situation.

    If anybody wants to come over here and work in my veggie beds, let me know! (It’s been at least 32ºC for the last month, with no end in sight. So bring a hat.) 🙂

  6. Hi Jono,lucky you don’t live in islington! After 10 years on the waiting list,I was finally given a plot this year.It measures 10m by 1.5m(a tenth of a regular allotment plot) and I had to sign an agreement that I would give up my plot after 10 years if there are still people on the waiting list(a high probability, as there are 300 on the list with only a few plots becomming available every year!).Existing plots, probably a fifth of a regular allotmemt plot, are now being divded in two if they become available, to provide more new plots for those on the list, also with the 10 year proviso.
    Would you be happy to give up your plot after 10 years?! V.best Naomi

  7. Alan – I’m there lol.

    There are quite a few plots at my allotments that are in a real mess – almost non-returnable. Nothing tends to be done about them in a hurry, maybe prospective tenants are put off by the state, or expect to turn up to freshly turned soil.

    I see a few people being shown around, but not many seem to come back.

    Naomi, that’s crazy! A decade’s work just to give it over to someone else! That’d break my heart.

    Looking at some of the figures I found when googling, the London allotment waiting lists are incredible. I had no idea.

  8. Hi,
    It really annoys me to see and know that there is such a huge wait for allotments. I am struggling with mine and I have still come out a winner where your Spreedsheet is concerned and only half my plot is being productive.
    The two plots next to mine are both empty and have been since before I managed to get my plot. I even know of a local family that would love to have one of the plots on the site yet there’s been no joy with the person in charge of allotments in my town.
    When I visited the allotment shop at another local site they had empty plots due to the holders having passed away and nothing being done to chase up the situation. So annoying!

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