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March 6, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Has grow-your-own peaked?

At long last, the Government has acted to tackle the 100,000-strong allotments waiting list. Environment secretary Hilary Benn has initiated “meanwhile leases” so that developers can temporarily give up land for growing, then take it back when they are feeling flush enough to start building again. Benn was at King’s Cross in London with communities minister John Denham and BBC Gardeners’ World allotmenteer Joe Swift to launch the scheme.
Meanwhile, Olympics planners LDA Design advise that they include allotments in all new development masterplans. But are the Government and developers too late to act? There are huge allotment waiting lists, but the National Society for Allotment and Leisure Gardeners say they think the numbers may have stalled. Denham stated that he thought that would be understandable – why join a list that is 20 or 30 years long, as it is in parts of London?
Benn said it was pessimistic to suggest that new spaces to grow would be ready only when the allotment trend was consigned to history, as a 2008-2010 recession fad. Both ministers said this allotment boom is more sustainable than the boom of the 1970s because people are more interested in where their food comes from. But there is little doubt the interest really took off because wannabe growers were trying to find cheaper food. Has the grow-your-own craze peaked?

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