Why start an allotment?

The benefits of allotment gardening

Photo:Andrew catching snails in his cabbage patch

Andrew catching snails in his cabbage patch

Photo by Simon Tobitt for the My Brighton and Hove website

Health Factor
Enjoy being outdoors? Want to get or keep fit and healthy? - But don't like the idea of joining a gym or a sports club, allotment gardening could be the route to an all round healthier you. Having a plot gives access to fresh food, therapeutic activity, good company and exercise anytime of day, all year round with fresh air as a bonus. You get to choose when and how long to exercise and how to work once you're on the plot.

Gardening is recommended as an excellent form of exercise for people of all ages and abilities. Many allotment gardeners now use a small part of the allotment as a leisure area sometimes with a pond and incorporating scented plants that attract bees and butterflies.

Although many people do not consider gardening to be an exercise, it is widely recognised that allotment gardening has significant mental and physical health benefits. You will also be producing fresh home-grown fruit and vegetables, which will increase your access to a nutritious healthy diet.

Getting Active
Being physically active and outdoors has numerous benefits such as helping us relax, sleep and reducing anxiety.

Gardening, cycling, walking and swimming are recommended forms of exercise by Health Education Authority. Gardening at a moderate activity level for a recommended minimum of 30 minutes daily can help improve or prevent many health conditions such as:

  • Strokes and coronary heart disease
  • Mild hypertension (raised blood pressure)
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • Non-insulin dependent diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity

Living an active life can also give you more energy, an improved posture and confidence and a better body shape and appearance.
Activity helps maintain independence and quality of life.

Stress is an all too common part of our lives. Spending time outside, working on an allotment is known to reduce stress levels. What better way to unwind than to spend an hour gardening, away from the stress of modern living?

Research has shown physical activity to be beneficial to people who have anxiety and mild depression conditions.

Gardening is a great way to meet people of all ages and cultures.

Healthy diet
For most people, a healthy diet means eating more fruit and vegetables. Home-grown fruit and vegetables are fresh, cheap and nutritious. By growing your own food you can ensure it is fresh, chemical and additive free and not genetically modified.

Home-grown crops are always far tastier than those bought in the shops and at a fraction the price.   Many people are becoming concerned about the possibility of chemical residue in food. Organic gardening can ensure that your vegetables are chemical free.

How can we be sure that the food you buy is free from genetically modified product? The sure way is to grow your own.

Community groups and allotment associations
Allotments are a great way of meeting other like minded people, young and old alike. You could be a member of one of the associations. Some sites have trading centres where members can buy seeds and sundries at discount prices.

Open Spaces
Along with parks, Downland, beaches and open spaces allotment sites form the 'green lung' of Brighton & Hove. By cultivating an allotment you will be helping to ensure their preservation well into the future.

Wildlife
A working allotment can be a wildlife haven with foxes, badgers, slow-worms, birds, bees and butterflies and a host of other wildlife right in the middle of the built up areas. It is surprising what you see while you work on the plot.

Herbs, fruit and flowers
Remember that allotments are not just about straight rows of vegetables. Many tenants grow flowers, fruit, herbs and spices, to get the most from their allotment.

Garden substitute
For some people without a garden large enough to grow vegetables, their allotment is a luxury they do not have at home.  An allotment can provide you with the bigger garden and leisure area that you have always dreamed of. Many tenants have lawns, patios, flower borders, ponds and many other features to make their plot feel like their own garden.

This page was added by Jack Latimer on 09/03/2006.