The National Allotment Society (NSALG) is the leading national organisation upholding the interests and rights of the allotment community across the UK, writes Di Appleyard, mentor, marketing and PR co-ordinator.
We are governed by volunteers from our regional bodies in England and Wales (the regional representatives) and our membership is made up of allotments associations, societies and federations, schools, councils, landlords and individuals.
We work with government at national and local levels, other organisations and landlords to provide, promote and preserve allotments for all.
We offer support, guidance and advice to our members and those with an interest in allotment gardening.
Contemporary allotments do more than provide food, the healthy lifestyle they encourage helps to combat several of the challenges facing 21st century populations ie obesity, inactivity and mental health problems resulting from social isolation.
Allotments also make a significant contribution to supporting wildlife in urban areas.
They form some of the best habitat mosaics and wildlife corridors, often linking up with parks, tracks, hedgerows, churchyards and rivers.
Each year we encourage sites to open up their gates in our campaign week and invite the local community to join them for barbecues, plant and produce sales, allotment tours, competitions and exhibitions, coffee mornings and afternoon teas – many of them raising funds to support local charities.
Details can be found on our website.
‘Growing the Movement’ National Allotments Week, 14 – 20 August 2017
NSALG’s ‘Growing the Movement’ theme this year is a celebration of all the hard work put in by voluntary association management committees, plot-holder volunteers and councils managing, creating, developing and safeguarding allotment sites.
Allotments have a long history of voluntary endeavour; including the National Allotment Society itself, whose roots go back to the early twentieth century. Increasing numbers of voluntary allotment associations have taken on devolved management of their sites in recent years but there are many more who have been quietly getting on with it for decades,managing finances, maintaining and developing sites, monitoring plot cultivation, recruiting and supporting new plot-holders, arranging events and liaising with the allotment authority or landlord.
The National Allotment Society President elect, Phil Gomersall thinks that commitment from the community is key to the future of the movement and that we “need all our Ps in one basket, people power from plots to help preserve and promote the nations’ allotments”.
Getting an allotment can take time as waiting lists are long, but in the first instance you should contact your local authority - this will be p, Town, borough, city or district council.
There is no central point of information for allotments in Northern Ireland but some councils do provide them, the National Trust provide them on a number of their properties and there are private allotments such as Ards Allotments in Co Down.
Other allotment sites are provided by private landlords, including organisations like the Church of England.
Hunt out your local allotment society and ask them if they know of any available plots or who manages the land which they use if it’s not owned by the local authority.
If you have no luck with the local authority and established private landlords, then your next step might have to be a sideways one... look around your neighbourhood and see if you can spot any vacant land which would make a good allotment.
Find out who owns the land and ask away, it might just be possible that you can use it for growing on.
The National Allotment Society offers support, guidance and advice to our members and those with an interest in allotment gardening.
Members benefit from legal advice, horticultural support, discounted insurance, seeds and gardening products, lively magazine, e-news and website.