Having an allotment should be a pleasurable rewarding experience, however all too often people give up within their first year having not fully appreciated the amount of time and energy involved. Misdirected enthusiasm and lack of experience can easily lead the energetic beginner up the wrong path and it can be hard to get back on track as the seasons advance. As an allotment association it is disappointing and frustrating to see people come and go, whilst for the individual, it can be disheartening and the sudden end of a dream.
Here at Ashbourne Road and District Allotment Association we have created 6 new Starter Plots which will give the beginner a gentler introduction into allotment growing. Each Starter Plot is let as ‘good to grow’ – soil turned, paths laid and a small shed and tools provided for use as well as a shared seating area for the 6 plot holders to share.
Additionally, support and guidance will be available from our Growing Academy tutors and each will be given hands on tutoring during the growing year to support each plot holder and guide them through to success.
In order for this to happen, when a person signs up for one of the unique Starter Plots each must also be available to attend the 10-week course held on the site on Saturday mornings between 10am and 12noon. Dates for the course for 2021 will follow by the end of October 2020.
Without the usual pressures involved in clearing and setting up a plot the beginner will have time to learn growing techniques and understand the many challenges facing the allotmenteer, as well as grasp the level of commitment and work involved including engaging with the rest of the allotment community.
Each Starter Plot is only available to rent for a year from January to January after which, those plotters who have successfully cultivated for that duration may ask to be prioritised on the waiting list for a bigger plot. Each person will leave the Starter Plot making room for another Starter and if no other plots are available, will wait for one but will all have gained knowledge and experience no book can teach and will have a more realistic view of what they can manage.
Why as a beginner you should choose a starter plot:
- Novices will be supported to design their own plot
- Each will be shown how to dig properly and use tools for the relevant job on site
- Tools will be supplied
- Plants will be grown on site and given according to availability from the Growing Academy
- Plotters will be encouraged to grow a variety of vegetables according to their own design and plants will be grown from seeds on site
- Guidance will be given on planting depths and distances, as well as how to protect your crops from pests and diseases
- Each plot will have been dug over and will be ready to be utilised in January each year
- Boundary fences are in situ and individual spaces well defined
- Each plot has its own storage shed
- The plots will have a shared covered seating area and water access.