This week is National Allotment Week – an annual celebration of the role allotments play in helping people live healthier lives, grow their own food, develop friendships and bolster communities.
National Allotment Week 2021’s theme is ‘Plotting for the Future’ with a focus on how allotments can support people to live more sustainably, and care for the environment. So to celebrate we’ve compiled a list of some of the ways tending to an allotment can help us achieve a more sustainable, greener future.
We want to hear from you too, share your top tips and stories from your allotments this week, and don’t forget to tag @urbangreenncl in your posts, or use the hashtag #urbangreenncl.
Grow your own
One of the most popular reasons for people to have an allotment is to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Homegrown produce cuts down on waste and means you can control the amount of fertilisers and pesticides you’re using. Not only does that mean you know what’s on your plate, but it also helps to protect soil and prevent water pollution.
Allotments, like all our green spaces, provide homes for nature and wildlife. Whilst some may be more welcome than others, by carefully choosing what you plant you can cultivate habitats to create a balanced eco-system that works for everyone. Nest boxes, beetle banks, and log/stone piles can all help support the local wildlife population to flourish and grow.
Reducing carbon emissions
We all know that importing and exporting of food produce around the world contributes to harmful carbon emissions. A large amount of food produce arrives by air, which is one of the worst polluters, and heavy goods vehicles, like trucks and lorries, also add to the negative impact food can have on our environment.
By growing your own produce you can have an immediate positive impact on the environment and over time can create a sustainable source of food for you (and maybe your family and friends too!).
Lots of allotment holders have developed innovative and clever ways to collect rainwater, which reduces the need to use mains tap water to feed their plants. Rainwater harvesting puts less strain on water resources and is a sustainable way for you to meet the needs of your plants for the long term, as well as allowing natural minerals from the rainwater to benefit the soil.
As many allotment holders will know, nothing needs to go to waste – grass clippings, hedge trimmings, shrubbery and weeds can all be used to create nutrient rich compost. Composting is also the most environmentally friendly way to manage your garden (and kitchen) waste. Not only does compost enrich the soil and reduce the need for harmful chemical fertilisers, composting also helps counteract the level of methane emissions from landfill sites.
Plastic and packaging
Plastics used in food packaging are hugely damaging to the environment. While pressure from environmental groups and consumers has led many companies to look at more sustainable forms of packaging, including recycled paperboard. Growing your own produce on an allotment reduces the need for food packaging altogether!
Many allotment holders have also become more aware of the use of plastics in gardening in general – from plant and seed pots to compost bins and sheeting. Thankfully, there are lots of alternative biodegradable materials you can use instead, including wood, paper and coir.
Maintaining health and wellbeing
It’s well documented that spending time in the outdoors and amongst nature is very good for both our physical and mental wellbeing. And so is eating a healthy, balanced diet. Allotments give people access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which can help you to live a longer, happier and healthier life.
To find out more about this year’s National Allotment Week and its theme – Plotting for the Future – visit www.nsalg.org.uk.