Friday, 27 July 2012

Are allotments cost effective?

Just so that no one can say that they did not realise; allotments are very hard work.

Think of something that you have done that is hard physical work.  Now double it and that is what kind of work you will have to put in to produce a good allotment.  It is a long term regular commitment.  Allotments do not respond to dibble dabbling about poking a fork into a square metre every other week.

Allotments develop slowly over many years if good organic matter is added regularly.  Only after many years do they produce a big enough harvest to make all the effort worthwhile.

Vegetables that you get might not be as 'high quality' as you might expect. They can be small, misshapen and mealy.  Obtaining pesticide free vegetables means that the plants are regularly infested by a variety of unwanted wildlife.

Very often your hard work and effort only achieves mediocre or poor harvests. Even after years of improving the soil there are always some vegetables that do not produce very good results.

However, the measurement of what is worthwhile cannot be assessed purely on the savings that could be achieved by growing your own vegetables.

To begin with there is a lot of physical exercise that can take place over long periods of time.  Digging the allotment will have to be done in some form or other every year.

I have been digging up the potatoes this week.  Several hours of digging, bending, lifting and squatting certainly makes muscles you didn't know you had ache like nobodies business.

Just using the onion hoe around the onions and leeks involves quite a bit of exercise and bending.  Wheelbarrowing the pigeon muck onto the allotment also involved a lot of physical effort.

This must improve fitness.

Getting outside into the fresh air, particularly when scented by sweet peas, together with the calm and quiet  atmosphere of an allotment must be worthwhile.

Listening to the hum of nature and the songs of birds while drinking a cup of chamomile flower tea is much more valuable than producing cost effective food.

Eating food that you have the skills to produce yourself, knowing  the soil it comes from, knowing what has gone into it and knowing what kind of effort is needed to produce it is more than worthwhile.  Getting your hands into the soil connects you to the earth and the living things that live there.

I can eat unusual vegetables such as celeriac, Florence fennel, Hamburg parsley, salsify, scorzonera and oca for a month without missing a day.  I can eat the varieties of potato, pea and tomato that I like.
What is that worth?

So you can take your money and your cost effectiveness and go eat it.  Nothing is worth more than your skill and knowledge particularly when growing your own food.

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