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'The allotment helps us to connect with nature, our food and ourselves'

I didn’t grow up dreaming of pulling parsnips and carting around horse manure, but that’s the beauty of the allotment. Over time it has become the most important place for my family and I to connect with nature, our food and ourselves. I have always been drawn to plants and nature, and harboured a particular fondness for harvesting fresh fruit (who doesn’t like that?) so it was a natural next step for me. I loved the idea of growing my own food, not just for the love of plants but also for the love of eating! Having an allotment really has helped me to live a more healthy lifestyle. The exercise involved in establishing and maintaining an allotment is probably the most obvious health benefit. I can easily pass 6 hours on the vegetable patch pottering around, digging, weeding, planting and watering without so much as glancing at my watch. The motivation to do the work comes from the love for your plants, your crops and your land instead of from a will to exercise. Exercise is simply a convenient byproduct! Given that self motivation is one of the hardest things, for me at least, when it comes to exercise, this works perfectly. Cultivating a connection with food, and creating an understanding of what goes into it and where it comes from has been really important and exciting for me. Especially when it comes to feeding my children. We grow everything organically, so knowing that our food is healthy, and contributing to a healthy environment too is very important. We can teach the kids about the wildlife in our allotment as well as the crops. One of the less obvious, but in some ways more important health benefits of allotment life is time spent outside, in nature. It’s great for your mental and physical well-being. In 2016, a few months after running my first marathon, I was involved in a car accident. I was quite immobile for a few months after that and my mental health took a turn for the worst. My allotment helped me to get back on my feet, gave me a reason to get out of bed and put a smile on my face every single day. Something as simple as seeing a plant flourish in your care can be incredibly empowering and help you to get through another day. My allotment is my happy place, it’s where I go to relax and spend time with my family. It’s educational, fun, the health benefits are innumerable and the bonus is I have healthy garden snacks all year round!

Author credit: Rebecca Wakeford

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