Having your own allotment can be a very rewarding experience. However, it is also very hard work. It is likely that when you are allocated an allotment, it will have been neglected for some time. You must expect to have to spend a minimum of several hundred hours in the first year to clear a full plot, dig it over and start to plant it out.
This commitment of time is unlikely to decrease, but of course you will gradually be able to spend more time on planting and harvesting after the first year.
The commitment of time has to be regular. Even a well-tended plot will soon become overgrown if it is neglected – even if just for a few weeks. Make sure you have time to commit to an allotment before you sign up. Try and visit the allotment site you are interested in to get an idea of what you may be taking on.
As well as paying rent for the year ahead, you will need tools and possibly a shed or storage facility on your plot. If you have never had an allotment before, find out if you can start on a small plot or a half plot.
You will have to sign a tenancy agreement with Manchester City Council, part of which states that you will be expected to keep the plot free from weeds and cultivated. You can’t do it all at once, but the agreement states that you must:
- Cultivate one quarter of the plot within 3 months of signing the tenancy agreement; and
- Cultivate the whole plot within 12 months of signing the tenancy agreement (which is an ongoing commitment).
There are a number of other rules and conditions as well, and failure to comply with any of these can lead to the Council terminating the tenancy. There is usually a long waiting list for allotments. Failing to cultivate it or look after it properly is unfair on people waiting, as well as other plot holders on the site.
Most Manchester allotments are run by a voluntary allotment association; they will be a group of plot holders who give up their time to “manage” the site. Be prepared to support the association by helping out on site; this may be cutting back hedges and bushes, weeding or helping out in an allotment shop. When you take on an allotment you are not just renting a plot of land, you are joining a community.
Taking an allotment and tending it properly will bring great satisfaction, as well as your own delicious home grown food.
We have no vacant plots at present (September 2020), but if you would like us to place your name on the waiting list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org