I’ll always remember that first pea straight from the pod, picked from my grandma’s garden as a little girl. It was the sweetest pea I’d ever had and ever since then I was hooked - determined to grow my own food when I had my own space.
My primary motivations for getting an allotment were both for environmental reasons, and also just how good fresh fruit and vegetables taste. When you grow your own food, you start to become more aware of the importance of eating seasonally both for flavour and nutrients. Nothing beats homegrown potatoes for their crisp delicate taste and once you’ve tried homegrown sweetcorn you can never go back - supermarket sweetcorn just doesn’t cut it anymore.
However the health benefits for taking on an allotment are endless. Firstly, you control the growing conditions. All of our crops are grown organically, meaning I know exactly what ends up on our plate.
Gardening is also a full body work out - no really! I’ve never been one to stick to a gym membership but I can put in a few hours at the allotment and not consider it a workout, until the next day when my muscles ache. It’s definitely helped improve both my strength and flexibility, not to mention the sheer amount of squats completed when planting out crops.
There’s also the invaluable benefits of gardening on your mental health. It’s widely been reported that finding your green fingers can help reduce depression, anxiety and stress, not to mention loneliness as you form a network with other plot-holders. I’ve recently had a baby and it’s been quite an identity adjustment becoming a new mum. The allotment has helped my mental wellbeing enormously, forcing me outside to find five minutes of ‘me time’, which in turn makes me a better mother.
There’s a definite feeling of accomplishment with an allotment. Plants can challenge and frustrate you but nothing beats the feeling when you tried to grow something and it only went and worked.
For me, having an allotment is a way of life. So if you’re considering taking up gardening, please do. If you’re thinking about putting your name on an allotment waiting list - make that leap. It might well be the best thing you do.
Author credit; Rachel Bull