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Looks like men have lost the plot! Half of allotments are now held by women


Looks like men have lost the plot! Half of allotments are now held by women as demand reaches record high amid the Covid pandemic

  • More than 60 per cent of London council allotments are occupied by women 
  • The National Allotment Society estimates half of holders nationally are women
  • Allotment demand has soared in areas including Brighton and Hove and Watford

The allotment is traditionally considered the preserve of the older male – a serene retreat where he can tend his marrows.

But there’s been a twist in the plot, and it appears that these chaps may soon be outnumbered by hoe-wielding females.

Almost two thirds – 64 per cent – of council allotments in London are now occupied by women, research shows.

And the National Allotment Society estimates that half of holders nationally are now women – compared to 2 per cent in 1973 and 20 per cent in 2003.

The allotment is traditionally considered the preserve of the older male ¿ a serene retreat where he can tend his marrows. But there¿s been a twist in the plot, and it appears that these chaps may soon be outnumbered by hoe-wielding females [File photo]

The allotment is traditionally considered the preserve of the older male – a serene retreat where he can tend his marrows. But there’s been a twist in the plot, and it appears that these chaps may soon be outnumbered by hoe-wielding females [File photo]

Possibly taking inspiration from celebrity gardener Charlie Dimmock and Felicity Kendal’s portrayal of Barbara Good in 1970s sitcom The Good Life, women have flocked to plots all over the country.

Demand has soared in areas such as Brighton and Hove and Watford in the South all the way up to Newcastle and Edinburgh, council reports show.

Council waiting lists have now reached record highs, further fuelled by people locked away at home during the Covid pandemic.

This latest study was carried out by Dr Tilly Collins and Ellen Fletcher, of Imperial College London.

They surveyed a sample of 24,883 plots over 682 sites in the capital and found that 63.7 per cent of holders are women. The average age was found to be 57 with men typically older than women.

Demand has quadrupled since 2006 with the average waiting list in London now five years, they found.

The huge shortfall means some councils have closed their lists altogether amid waits of up to 40 years for frustrated gardeners.

Camden Council in north-west London scrapped its list after it emerged that as many as 1,000 were waiting up to four decades for around 200 allotments. 

And the list was similarly closed in nearby Islington because of a 14-year average wait for its 94 plots. 

Demand has soared in areas such as Brighton and Hove and Watford in the South all the way up to Newcastle and Edinburgh, council reports show [File photo]

Demand has soared in areas such as Brighton and Hove and Watford in the South all the way up to Newcastle and Edinburgh, council reports show [File photo]

Dr Collins said that traditional allotments have really ‘moved on’ and become a ‘very different kind of space’ where women want to relax and be self-sufficient.

She said: ‘These green spaces are now known to be so good for people’s physical and mental health. Whether they are digging on their allotment or not, just relaxing there makes them feel so much better. And I think women are taking allotments on with their children and grandchildren in mind to give them an understanding of food production.”

Diane Appleyard, of the National Allotment Society, said: ‘Looking at councils’ allotment strategy reports… it would appear there are now at least as many, if not more, women on sites. Life has changed. When it was predominantly men on sites, domestic roles were relatively defined. Now men probably have less time because they are doing more domestically.’

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