With award waiting lists in the UK stretching for decades, many future producers have nowhere to get their hands dirty. A new digital platform has a solution
When the UK closed last March, sparking a wave of panic buying that left supermarket shelves empty, many people sought comfort and safety in vegetable gardens. With nuances of ‘dig for victory’, sowing, digging and cultivating were ways to take control in uncertain times, but only for those lucky enough to have gardens or plots.
Many of those who had not joined the latter’s waiting lists. The National Allotment Society reported a more than 300 percent increase in applications in some areas, extending already long waiting lists by decades. One plot in Leeds reportedly now has a 170-year waiting list; that’s a long time to wait for your beans.
While potential growers wait indefinitely, many homeowners are unable or unwilling to care for their gardens, which means that potential growing space will be wasted. If only there was a way to connect the two.
Well now there is, thanks to architect Conor Gallagher, who this week launched Assign me, a digital platform promoted as the ‘Airbnb for gardens’. It allows people who have green space they don’t use to rent it out to prospective farmers looking for land. Gallagher came up with the idea after moving to London from Belfast.
“I was aware of so many people without a garden or access to outdoor spaces, and of the difficulty that bordered on the impossibility of obtaining a plot by traditional routes. It became clear that there is a great desire for a sustainable life, but there is no way to satisfy it, ”he says.
“As an architect, I am trained to spot opportunities in space, and as I passed through a neglected and neglected garden I realized that there is a repository of unexploited outdoor space in London that is not being used, so why not? put the two together? . “AllotMe was born.
“There is a reserve of untapped outdoor space that is not being used,” says Gallagher. Image: AllotMe
The first plot to appear on the platform was Gallagher’s own backyard, echoing the founders of AirBnb, who were the first people to list their homes on the site. Gallagher’s garden has been rented by Corrie Rounding from South London, who is the first ‘greenfinger’ to use the platform.
“I’ve wanted to find a space to grow my own for so long, but it’s very difficult to find in London,” says Rounding. “The opportunity to grow mine is brilliant, but it is also very therapeutic. I love how relaxing it is to work in an outdoor space. “
Gallagher himself is a recent convert to gardening. He dug his hands into the dirt for the first time a couple of years ago, discovering the mental health benefits of growing his own. He hopes AllotMe will help advance the well-being of others in the same way, while strengthening relationships in communities. The time of the launch of AllotMe, in Mental Health Awareness Week, It is suitable.
“The opportunity to grow mine is great, but also very therapeutic,” says Rounding. Image: AllotMe
So how much? Well the current fee for a plot is currently between £ 15 and £ 30 a month depending on the size. Part of the fee goes to AllotMe, which provides insurance, or ‘garden guarantee’, for those who rent their yards.
The platform’s “green fingers” may not fit a particular demographic, Gallagher says, but acknowledges that they “are probably a little younger than the typical gardener perception.”
Despite its launch this week, there are already over 1,000 people on the AllotMe waiting list in London alone. But this is not just a fashion capital initiative – people are signing up across the UK, Gallagher says, though he admits that demand for parcels currently outstrips supply. This is something that he hopes will change as more people become aware of the platform and the desire for sustainable living becomes popular.
“Sustainability is a big part of that,” he says. “Hosts may not be able to use their outdoor space for a wide variety of reasons, but by allowing someone to rent it and use it to grow food, they are allowing a contribution to a greener society and playing a role also”.
Lead Image: CDC