Funky Allotment

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peasWhile it seems very modern to be interested in organic and locally grown produce, fans of the last century may recall their horticultural history. We know that prior to the jet age, most of our produce was grown locally. And while we haven't forgotten that organic horticulture is knowledge accumulated over centuries, we associate organics with the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Daza and Enid are not hippies (although hippies are some of our best friends), but we like locally grown produce. We like it so much that we grow our own produce. Doing it ourselves also means we know what makes our produce grow, and there's no nasty surprises descending our oesophagi. Because we live in an over-populated country, we don't have much of a garden - and instead lease a plot from our local allotment garden. While allotments have existed in the United Kingdom since the 18th century, the social ethos of allotments sit kind of comfortably with 20th Century social democracy.

Last century social ethics

It costs very little to lease an allotment, because amazingly they retain their democratic aspirations of providing arable land for the poor. They also fulfill a number of other social functions. For example, the Luxembourg-based non-profit organisation Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux represents 3 million European allotment gardeners. and claims that allotments offer biological conservation, improved urban life, economic and health benefits for families, harmony and fellowship, a place for children to play and learn, relief from the stress of work or the stress of unemployment, integration of immigrants into local communities, and social participation for disabled and senior citizens. In other words, when you keep an allotment you are participating in democracy. Or are you preventing someone else from participating - there's a three year waiting list for an allotment in our nearest city. Make more allotments. Allotment gardening - we like it!

Hippies did things in gardens that were interesting to look at, like this.

Allotment style

beans You'll find there's a lot going on at your local allotment. The plots are leased on an individual basis and they take on their leasee's individual style, making allotment gardens more eclectic than communal gardens. You get the serious old hands who started allotmenteering before the revolution, and proudly enter their marrows into local [[vegetable competitions]]. There are the nouveau lifestyle allotmenteers who start with a loud a bang, with pre-fabricated everythings from B&Q and hired gangs of professional gardeners. There are the lady gardeners, with straw hats and dainty secateurs, who grow sweet peas amongst their lettuces and paint their sheds pink. There are the perennially stressed who attack their plots in true military fashion, because their doctors recommended gardening to reduce high blood pressure. There are alternative types, who garden by the stars or urinate in their compost. Or creative geniuses, who reinvent the brilliance of nature out of corn stalks, willow fences and irrigation piping. There are the silent, the weak, the lazy, the poor, the hungry, the insane - all using the pleasure of production to salve the pains and ills of modern living. Everyone who keeps an allotment is a bit bonkers. We like it!

Links for funky allotment ideas