If the council of any borough, urban district, or parish are of opinion that there is a demand for allotments… in the borough, urban district, or parish,… the council shall provide a sufficient number of allotments, and shall let such allotments to persons.
That's taken straight from the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908. As far as I'm aware that still stands. Seems all you need are 6 names from 6 different rate payers in the borough. No doubt there's enough red tape beyond that statement to stretch to the moon and back but still, it looks fairly straightforward.
I've a small, I mean really small, vegetable garden out the back. I grow enough garlic for the year, enough onions for half the year and other bits and bobs gets me through the summer. Nothing outstanding but still enough to take some sense of pride in the whole thing. People visit the garden and stand a bit slack jawed as the courgettes, french beans and peas hang unpicked and unpacked. Potatoes grow in a few fertilizer bags, tomatoes in the greenhouse and herbs etc are tucked in where there's space for them. There's nothing hard about it. Seeds have a tendency to grow, that's what they're designed to do. I probably grow about 2% of our total food. It doesn't sound like a lot, but If I had more land I could easily take that to 25% with not much more work.
My Da always had a garden and his Da had an allotment, especially during WWII, when the Dig For Victory campaign was in full swing. Allotments were situated on the embankment of the Ballygawley Road. My Da remembers my Granda growing/bartering almost everything to feed a family of 13. In the UK, during WWII, the Dig for Victory campaign accounted for 1.5 million plots, raised land usage by 80% and halved food imports.
The most recent example of Urban Agriculture on a National scale was in Cuba during the Special Period. Pesticides, oil and food suddenly stopped, the USA further tightened its embargo and Cuba was facing famine. Now almost every available balcony, terrace, rooftop and derelict plot within Havana helps produce over 50% of the city's fresh fruit and vegetables. Havana has a polulation of 2.1 million.
So if you fancy upping your acreage and lowering your food bill, and there isn't an allotment in your borough, contact your local council and let the red tape flow.
Dig Well & Crop Wisely.
Images are taken from an original "Dig For Victory Leaflet No.1", found in Middletons Gardening Guide 1945.