Jenny Mollison from the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society gave a very interesting talk at our November event, including the history and traditions of allotments in Scotland, their people, sheds, traditions and characteristics. Jenny also shared her own passion, growing anything and everything from seed and encouraged everyone to try something new, from Carlin Peas to Oca!
Allotments are classified as rented ground for the plotholder to grow fruit, flowers and vegetables and today, around 60% of allotment sites are council-owned. The original intention of allotments was to provide food for the family and keep the gardener out of the ale-house!
Plots were originally sized using ten rods, poles or perches, terms from mediaeval times when ploughing was done with oxen and such rods, poles or perches used to drive oxen were about 16.5 feet long. Today, a full sized plot is about 220 square metres, or roughly the size of a tennis court (within the lines.
Allotments have always been about food growing, wellbeing and healthy, outdoor exercise and in 1932, Scottish Allotments Scheme for the Unemployed offered discoutns on the cost of seeds, fertiliser and reduced rent, "so that the physical, mental and moral stimulus of productive work would help keep the unemployed fit for whenever the happy call to resume regular employment may come to them"
There used to be hundreds of thousands of allotment plots in Scotland many years ago - but now there are only around 10,000. However, with increasing demand, new plots are being opened around Scotland, by local authorities and community groups. However, there's still a long time to wait for popular sites with a waiting list of around 8 years for a plot in Musselburgh!
Thank you to Jenny for a fascinating insight into the world of allotments - and visit the SAGS website for more information.