Land owners and allotments.

In the first part of this series of articles I had the pleasure of introducing you to a possible business venture for landowners. This venture, partly commercial and partly philanthropic is the provision of allotments close to a village, town, or city.

Having looked at plot sizes in a previous post, it’s now time to turn our attention to what “extras” your allotment scheme should aim to provide. Of course ploughed and cultivated soil for each allotment holder to begin with should be a given, as well as adequately pressured water stand pipes.

Water standpipes are essential, even one as ancient as this, photo / pic / image.

Water standpipes are essential, even one as ancient as this, photo / pic / image.

Allotment extras.
To travel about any allotment scheme you will require pathways. These should be approx 1.4 metres wide to enable wheelbarrow and disabled access. Spare a though as well for tractor/trailer access (3 metres wide) for those all-important deliveries of farmyard manure, mushroom compost etc.

At an early stage in the development of allotments you will have to decide on whether you will allow fruit tree planting onsite. It’s probably an understatement to say that these are a touch more permanent than veg. This permanency and the fact that they create shade across plots means that fruit trees are usually forbidden altogether, or else allocated a special orchard area.

Sheds and greenhouses are two other upright site specimens that you must say either yay or nay to. Bear in mind that any of these that require foundations or are connected to services may require local authority approval. Many allotment owners will simply opt for a communal shed/greenhouse to prevent complications with planning.

Other amenities: Will you provide the following…. toilets, BBQ, manure, bark mulch, communal tea area, seed and tool shop etc?

Some other preparations to think about.
Fencing of site for security and rabbit protection. Individual plots are often fenced off as well. Ploughing or cultivating the area.
Secure storage: Yes or no?
On-site car parking: Yes or no?

On the issue of insurance, this is discretionary. However Public Liability cover is strongly recommended in this day and age (I’m sure you know what I mean). I have come across a few allotment owners who get their plot holders to sign a liability waiver, however I must investigate this further to establish how “watertight” this would be in a court of law.

You may want to add additional cover to take in glasshouses and sheds as well. Many allotment owners who are already farmers have found it quite easy to add their allotment venture onto their farms insurance.

Allotment helpers?
Will you have any help, be it verbal and/or physical available on site for your new allotment holders? Many vegetable gardeners will be really new to the game and may flounder. Like the plot size, if they take on too much in the first year and it is a disaster, then they may not renew their plot next season.

Having someone attached to the allotment with veg growing experience is a definite plus. Who knows you may strike it lucky with an old hand gardener taking up a plot, and allowing the others to learn from them.

Of course every allotment scheme stands or falls depending on the uptake of plots. Before you invest money in a site, check to see if there is firm interest from prospective allotmenteers. One way to go about this is to place a notice in your local paper canvassing people to attend a public meeting on your proposed allotments.

Another cost effective way of gauging interest is to put up notices in your local garden centre and DIY stores for people to call you if interested. Cheaper still, you could post the same message on Internet forums particular to your locality, or on a forum whose subject is gardening in Ireland. You could also get listed on which is a website tracking all Irish allotments and detailing their benefits

Yearly rental for allotments
So how much can you hope to achieve from your yearly rental of allotment plots. Well, rents vary from place to place, and local allotment competition will have big bearing on the sort of rents that can be charged. So, first off check the rates of allotments sites in your vicinity, look at their facilities, and base your price on that.

I recently conducted a short poll on the pricing of allotments in eleven counties. The counties were Galway, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wexford, Wicklow, Antrim, and Down. It may interest you to learn that the average yearly rental for a 100 sq metre plot came in at around €250.

If you have an acre to spare you should be able to provide around forty plots at 100 sq metres a piece, with plenty of room left for pathways and other access. At this rate, provided all plots are filled, you would be looking at €10,000 before costs. Taking a vegetable analogy, this is certainly food for thought.

More debate about this topic on our forum, click The Irish gardeners forum.

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