Grow yours… in a rented land in the neighbor’s garden | Attributions

It started with a pot of basil on a windowsill, but soon Corrie Rounding dreamed of onions and potatoes.

The problem was where to find the space in which to grow tiny seedlings, big and beautiful vegetables. Rounding’s second-floor apartment in south London doesn’t even have a balcony, and waiting lists for city center assignments have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Nonetheless, Rounding, 29, will soon start planting his own vegetable garden after agreeing to rent a space from a neighbor who has more garden than he has time to cultivate.

The simple and enjoyable idea of ​​connecting people who want to grow their own food with those who have gardens or unloved bits of garden is the brainchild of this neighbor, Conor Gallagher. This week, it will launch AllotMe, a digital platform aimed at making renting garden space as easy as Airbnb has made renting a spare bedroom.

Gallagher, 30, who grew up in Belfast, said: ‘After moving to London I saw how people wanted to eat healthier, ethically and sustainably, but faced obstacles such as lack of food. space or excessive costs.

“So many people don’t have a garden or access to outdoor space, and getting a housing estate through traditional channels is difficult, if not impossible. There is a huge desire to live a long life, but often no way to satisfy it.

As he spotted neglected gardens, especially unloved front gardens, he realized that there were untapped reserves of unused outdoor space: “So why not bring the two together?

Before the website even officially launched, hundreds of people signed up to rent unwanted garden space.

One in five local authorities has allocation waiting lists of more than 1,000 people, and two-thirds have waiting lists between 100 and 400, according to the Association for Public Service Excellence. Almost nine out of 10 councils say there has been a noticeable increase in demand for plots during the pandemic.

Phil Gomersall, President of the National Allotment Society, said: “New sites are being created across the country, and planning authorities are asking developers to include allotment spaces in their plans. But there is much more demand than availability.

In his allotment gardens in Leeds, where he has been digging and planting for 27 years, the waiting list has dropped from four to 36 during the pandemic; another site in town now has a waiting list of 170.

Demand for allocations has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Photograph: Nick David / Getty Images

Gallagher’s hope is that AllotMe will be as revolutionary for food culture as digital platforms have been for short-term house rentals, taxi services and door-to-door deliveries. He concedes that not everyone will want a stranger to dig and plant in the back garden, but said: “Ten years ago people would have balked at the idea of ​​a stranger sleeping in their home. guest room.

And, he added, strangers may soon become friends. “I hope it will be community based, with long term relationships based on local supply and demand. “

Despite the perception that home gardens are the preserve of older people with free time, much of the new demand is driven by millennials, Gallagher said. “These are people who want to live more sustainably and who care about where their food comes from.”

He adds, “There are also huge mental health benefits from being outdoors, being active, and growing things.”

Typical hosts may be busy parents of young children who don’t have time to cultivate their gardens, or older people who find the physical labor of gardening has become more difficult.

Plots are likely to cost tenants between £ 15 and £ 30 per month, depending on the size, with a percentage fee going to AllotMe. The website will include video tutorials on growing fruits and vegetables and provide insurance coverage.

Rounding has already acquired a few tomato plants, but plans to focus on low-maintenance vegetables – potatoes, onions, garlic, eggplants and zucchini – while she develops her expertise.

“I know some times will be more labor intensive than others, but I’m happy it’s a year-round commitment,” she said. “Growing herbs was a lot more satisfying than I expected. Everyone loves to see a little green sprout pop up, don’t they?

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