Why Have Allotments Become So Popular in Recent Years?

Over the last 200 years, allotments have risen and fallen (and risen again) in popularity.
In fact, they’re becoming so popular that Local Authorities are slicing allotments in half to shorten waiting lists and double the numbers available… and the National Trust have even promised to create 1,000 more! So, why such a fashion for allotments?

Well, originally a Victorian idea, allotments of land were given to the poor so that they could produce their own food and timber. Whilst we’re generally better off than we used to be, there are still strong social and environmental reasons for keeping an allotment. Here’s why…

First and foremost, in an era where we’re all accustomed to the drudgery of weekly supermarket shops, growing our own fruit and veg feels satisfying. Whether we’re breaking into the earth with little more than a silent prayer for good weather or we’re making the most of seed treatment and science, seeing a good crop emerge from the dirt is nourishing – for our souls as much as for our bodies.


And isn’t that a good reason for the rising popularity of allotments? Ask anyone toiling over their patch of land, and they’ll likely tell you that they do it for self-education, the learning of new skills and a stronger connection with mother earth. A flourishing allotment is an accomplishment, and so is feeding our families with our own fair hands.

Another reason for the rising popularity of allotments is because they save us money. According to a survey funded by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and the Wellcome Trust (amongst others), the cost of healthy food is higher than the cost of unhealthy food. In fact, it’s about three times higher. The survey found that the average British family pays £7.49 for 1,000 kcal of healthy food compared to £2.50 for 1,000 kcal of unhealthy food, so it makes sense to grow your own where you can! Even if we’re only supplementing our diets with home-grown produce, we’re shaving money off our grocery bill every week as we free ourselves from commercial prices.

Why else have allotments become so popular in recent years? Well, we think it probably coincides with a fashion, and a need, to be more self-sufficient. Nowadays, we’re globalised and dependant on others – keeping an allotment feels like a private triumph and a nod to the ‘good old days’. And doesn’t there seem to be some security in knowing we have the skill and resources to feed ourselves? Regardless, it’s nice to know that at the very least, we’re placing less of a strain on the planet by doing a bit for ourselves.

Finally, the rise in popularity of allotments coincides with a stronger awareness of environmental issues and global warming. We’re all becoming more aware of our own carbon footprint, which we know we can diminish by reducing the amount of food we buy from overseas. Allotments allow us to grow in our own patch of British soil, and thus avoid buying food produced under exploitative terms and conditions we lack knowledge of.

So, will you be joining the waiting list for an allotment plot?