I have been a member of the allotment movement for nearly 20 years and even though I no longer have a plot I am still a member of The National Society of Allotments & Leisure Gardeners Lts, the UK wide equivalent of the union for allotment holders.
You may wonder why allotment holders would need a union ! The answer is simple ! Our island is relatively small and the demand for land is ever more demanding. Land is money, land is development and where there is development is profit.
Local councils struggle for cash or they say they do and will use any excuse to asset strip which includes selling allotment land if they can get away with it. Fortunately, as antiquated as they are - there are allotment laws for example each local authority has a statutory duty to provide allotments and many other allotment laws. Allotments Act 1908 the most significant.
I am in no doubt that my diversity has been enhanced by the privilege of me being involved in the allotment movement for so long. I have lost count how many allotments I have dug over even for other people and even allotments that were previously abandoned for years on end and brought them back into use !
Lots of my good friends in the allotment movement have passed away as they were already elderly when I first met them. Thinking about some of them even now brings a tears to my eyes. A gentleman called Bob a cranky old so and so but I respected him so much on the allotments on Blackpool Rd in Preston. He loved his plot. Every day he be there so how fitting it was for me to find him sat in his deck chair on his plot staring into the blue sky and having left us at that time ! A West Indian lady called Molly again in Preston who is no longer with us but for about 3 years every now and again she would leave a bottle of elderberry wine outside my shed door and she did this knowing that due to the stuff being dynamite she wouldnt see me on the plot for 2 or 3 days after I had drank the whole bottle on an evening, which I couldnt help !
And theres Budle Bill (i think I have spelt that right) a musical instrument - only he couldnt play it but by golly he gave it a good go every day down yonder sat on his plot watching over his potatoes because he grew nothing else and attempted to play this budle which I have to say game me a good laugh every time I heard it.
I had Russian friends, Jamaican (and they do know their gardens), friends from Germany, Italy, West Indies, Pakistan, India - from all over the world and I loved every one of them in their own different ways.
I became the lead member for several associations - Serpentine No 2 Allotment Association and the Frenchwood Allotments Association in Preston and I formed The Swinton & District Allotments & leisure Gardeners Association in Swinton.
Being a member of the allotment movement gave me all the campaigning skills I have today. The elderly generation chose me to represent them the first time when I was only 23 years old and it was a privilege to be chosen by them. I didnt want to let them down and I didnt ! I saved the Frenchwood Allotment Association from extinction in 2001 when I defeated Preston City Council in a 5 year campaign to give them services which they previously never got. I regenerated the Blackpool Rd site and in Swinton formed the thriiving association it is today and persuaded Salford City Council as I did in Preston that self-management was the best system for those that wanted it and indeed several associations in Preston and Sallford survive and thrive because of what I achieved.
Sometimes, it can feel like "well why should I have bothered?" but I did. Spent years of my life dedicated to a movement which I am so proud of, people from different walks of life enjoying the fruits of their and my labour !mThats why its worthwhile !