4.12 Allotments and Community Gardens
Allotments and community gardens are small plots of land used to grow vegetables and flowers for personal use. They have a long history in Ireland and Europe as a means of providing additional garden space for horticulture and indeed respite from city living. The war years saw a surge in their popularity due to the genuine belief of imported supplies being cut off and it became government wartime policy in the UK to ‘Dig for Victory’.
Recessionary times have seen a resurgence in their popularity and this may be due both to a back to basics public sentiment, as well as provision of low cost food.
There are a number of key benefits in the provision of allotments and community gardens:
- Providing a social, community orientated activity.
- Providing physical activity to all age groups and different abilities.
- Providing locally grown food.
- Bringing vacant lands into active use.
There are two pieces of legislation concerning allotments – the Acquisition of Land (Allotment) Act 1926 and the Planning and Development Act 2010. In the former, legislative power was given to Local Authorities to provide land for allotments subject to a defined demand for them. In this earlier legislation, an allotment is defined as: ‘a piece of land containing not more than one quarter of a statute acre let or intended to be let for cultivation by an individual for the production of vegetables mainly for consumption by himself and his family’
In the latter act the definition is given as follows: ‘allotment’ means an area of land comprising not more than 1,000 square metres let or available for letting to and cultivation by one or more than one person who is a member of the local community and lives adjacent or near to the allotment, for the purpose of the production of vegetables or fruit mainly for consumption by the person or a member of his or her family. The current legislation includes that local authorities may reserve land for use and cultivation as allotments and regulate, promote, facilitate or control the provision of land for that use.