Monday, June 30, 2008

Allotment shedworking

Simon, who writes the excellent The Plot Thickens site and has arguably the nicest pallet shed around (pictured above), brought up an intriguing possibility in a comment over the weekend which some people may have missed. He writes:
"I think it would be fantastic if enlightened councils adapted allotments for shedworking. Think about it: All the benefits of shedworking but you still have the journey to work to enforce that life/work separation, but now it's a five minute walk to the allotment and not an hour on the M25. There's actually nothing in the allotment legislation to prevent shedworking as long as it's a side use of the allotment, it would just take a bit of investment in power and telecoms, but even that would pay because shedworkers could afford to contribute to a nice site hut with loo, etc so everyone wins. Bit of a dream I know, but wouldn't it be great if every office worker were to become an allotmenteering shedworker; I'd have to leave my job working on the canals an go back to writing software."
What do readers think?


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  1. Anonymous12:45 PM

    With the new mobile adapters for laptops you could connect to the outside world, a small wind turbine should give enough power to extend your laptop's battery ill the end of the day. Fitting in some hard digging between work would stop you getting fat behind your desk and you could have the ultimate in fresh salads for lunch.

  2. Yes, it's a very, very appealing idea (although if I had to rely on what I get from my allotment to keep my satisfied at lunchtime I'd lose plenty of weight without the digging). Perhaps we can get some kind of campaign going here?

  3. great idea.

    I was going to put my name down for a plot, but my local (and long standing allotment assoc) said it's a 2 year waiting list...

    not that my veg skills are any good, but just grown my first potatoes and they were the best I have ever tasted...

  4. For those of us from across the pond, how about a quick summary of how your allotments work (I think they are analogous to our "pea patches" maybe). What are they exactly? Who has them? Who organizes them? You get the idea.

    Thanks.....Bill Kratz

  5. An allotment is a small space of ground, measuring up to 250 square metres and usually (but not always) in an urban area. The idea is that you use it to 'farm' the kind of fruit and veg that there simply isn't room for in your garden. My allotment is about five minutes walk from my house so I'm quite lucky - I grow potatoes, onions, strawberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, cabbages, etc, up there. Plus weeds.

    Historically, there have always been sheds on allotments to keep your tools in and also as a resting place for a natter with other allotmenteers (each allotment is surrounded by dozens of others so the result is like lots of mini farms). Also historically, allotments have tended to be the domain of elderly gentlemen, but in the last few years in the UK there's been a tremendous upsurge in interest in them and now waiting lists in some areas can be several years long.

  6. I assume you pay a fee for the allotment. Is it one-time or ongoing? Who actually owns the land that is allotted?

    Thanks again.....Bill Kratz

  7. Fees are insignificant - £30 a year kind of level and you just keep the same plot year after year. The land is owned by the local council - they have a duty to look after it and can't turf you off, even though it can be prime real estate. The only way they can get rid of allotments is if they offer a similar location. There has been a lot of bad feeling caused by the preparations for the olympics which has meant some allotments in London getting the push.

  8. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Hi Alex, I'm glad you like the idea, and thanks for the kind words about my shed. Some kind of campaign's not a bad idea. It would be great if everyone who wanted an allotment could get one, and shedworking should be encouraged as part of that.

    Would working from your allotment shed change anything like business rates, etc? What would you say was the minimum spec for an allotment site to be shedworking-approved? Mobile broadband? Mains electric hook-ups on a green tariff? Site hut with loo & shop?

  9. I'm only guessing, but I can't see why some occasional or even semi-regular shedworking at the allotment would attract any kind of business rates (so long as you didn't entertain clients there, etc).

    In terms of spec, I think it depends very much on what you do, but for a 'proper' shedworking set-up I think the checklist should include all those things you mention. I'd also say the shed itself needs to be in decent condition with insulation, etc, or it won't be usable for a lot of the year. One trouble of course is vandalism so you wouldn't want to leave much hardward around when you weren't there, but if there was some kind of central co-working hut with a rotating roster of overseer, then that would help.

    I like the idea of a shop. I've always felt it was criminal how much stuff on our allotments just rots away or is unused.