My day to day is typically focused on technology and urbanization so it is a welcome change to get my hands dirty working on the allotment. It took us 5 years on a waiting list but about 6 years ago we got our own plot a very short walk from our house. The combination of physical labour, eating food you have grown and the mental health aspects have all proved to be more beneficial than I anticipated.
The community aspect of allotments is lovely. People always stop to chat and are always happy to help. But the physical aspect of working the land is also hard work. I remember a fellow kiwi allotmenter welcoming me into a peasant lifestyle when we first started. Growing your own produce, managing the land, and gaining an understanding of natural processes can sometimes feel like a slightly random process. Onions, garlic and tomatoes seem to be the only crops we manage to grow reliably each year. I’m not sure if we would be able to survive on only home grown food.
The mental health benefits of allotments are something that I had underestimated. Digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting all require effort and energy. But the act of manually tending to plants and watching them grow can be immensely satisfying and therapeutic. The connection to nature and the slower pace of life on an allotment reduces my stress and helps me switch off. I also buy into the idea that spending time outdoors exposes you to sunlight, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve your mood.
This past year I have been taking photos regularly to try and remind myself what we did and when throughout the year. It is also a great reminder of the volumes of food we are producing.
Allotment pics on Flickr: