National Trust land for allotments
The National Trust is creating 1,000 allotments for people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Responding to the growing interest in food provenance and the cash-saving benefits growing your own food brings, the Trust hopes to get local people involved in developing the plots of land as well as taking advantage of lottery money to get the scheme going.
Green-fingered growers will be able to get their hands on one of the plots through the Landshare website set up by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall which matches up allotments to suitable gardeners.
They will be available at 40 different locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and will include traditional allotments and walled gardens at National Trust properties.
As part of the initiative the Trust is also turning over the back garden of its central London office in Queen Anne's Gate to be an allotment for staff to use.
Gardener Monty Don, who is backing the scheme, said: "Allotments connect ordinary people to the beauty and richness of growing things; in an age of deceit and spin and collapse there is absolute integrity about growing food."
The Trust's director general Dame Fiona Reynolds said: "There's something in the air. More and more people want to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
"This isn't just about saving money - it's really satisfying to sow seeds and harvest the fruit and veg of your labour.
"By creating new growing spaces the National Trust can help people to start growing for the first time."
Around 100,000 people are currently on the waiting list for allotments countrywide.
Find an allotment
Here are just a handful of the sites that are already home to community allotments.
Just five miles from Gateshead, Gibside was once a grand estate built on money from coal. Now the estate is building a name for itself as a destination for food lovers. We are currently restoring the historic four acre walled garden and turning it into a community allotment scheme. Already mental health charities, a homeless shelter, rehabilitation service and local schools are cultivating tasty vegetables and beautiful blooms. The only rule is that plots must be kept in a reasonable condition and gardening must be organic. In the future, Gibside hopes to forge new partnerships with more local groups to transform this once forgotten area into a thriving community garden.
Minnowburn, Northern Ireland
In south Belfast seeds of change are set to flourish in a new community garden. Locally there is a waiting list of three to five years for allotments so the scheme couldn't come at a better time. The idea is to give people with no gardens the chance to nurture their own green space, grow fresh produce and build a sense of community. Beginners and experienced gardeners are welcome, and the plots can also be equipped with raised beds for disabled gardeners. This spring will bring the first shoots of success with vegetables, flowers and fruit gracing the allotments.
In 2008 a community group approached staff at Wembury in South Devon and asked if there was any land that could be transformed into allotments for local people. About two hectares of land has been set aside for 40 plots and the digging will start in earnest this spring. Some of the plots will be split to give as many people as possible the chance to enjoy the pleasure of growing their own produce. The plans include a communal shed with guttering to feed a series of water butts. As well as collecting water, staff will work with allotment holders to put into practice water conservation methods, composting and, where possible, follow organic principals. Wildlife will be welcome on site too; there are plans for hedges, tree planting and a pond.
Craflwyn, North Wales
For 40 years the kitchen gardens at Craflwyn lay forgotten and derelict until the Trust decided to transform the area into six pristine allotments for the local community. The terrain in the local village means that few houses have the space to grow vegetables. Work started in 2005 to restore the walls, beds and paths. Early in 2007 children from the local school helped to replant the fruit orchard. Three years in and the plots are a riot of produce and there is a healthy waiting list. The site is one of the most beautiful allotment settings in the UK.
Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire
In 2005 a group of enthusiastic volunteers set about the task of bringing back to life the walled garden at Disraeli's former home. Three years on, the volunteers are at the heart of this project helping everybody to grown their own. Each weekend they are on hand to give out free seeds to visitors, information on what's in season and advice on growing. Local schools and community groups tend the raised beds and a group of horticulture students grow produce for use in the on-site restaurant - more food inches than food miles. As well as the traditional beds, there is a container garden using everything from buckets to bins to nurture produce.