The allotment is a British institution. Working a small plot of land in a village, town or city is for many a way of life. It can also be an assertion of independence or self-sufficiency and a political and ecological statement.
There are over 300,000 allotments in the UK. The waiting list for a plot is nearing 90,000 nationwide. Tens of thousands of allotments have been lost to the developer's bulldozer in recent years. But still, every weekend thousands of people travel from their homes to their small plot, spending time weeding, hoeing, harvesting, chatting to neighbours, repairing small shed, tinkering, making tea. It is perhaps the most widespread legacy of our agricultural past and an expression of our compulsion to work the land productively.
The history of allotments dates back hundreds of years, but were only formally provided for by the 1908 "Small-holdings and Allotments Act" which set aside land for the working, industrial poor. Allotments have their own culture, their own space in the landscape , and they tell the story of our relationship with land, and with gardening and food. In this new book David Crouch explores the idea of the allotment, its culture, art and place in modern society. It's also a call to arms, a rallying cry for the defence of this important and diverse asset.
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David Crouch is Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Derby. He's also a gardener and artist, and a prolific author with many books to his name.