Choice magazine first pageMay is the month to Share a Garden

Growing your own tasty fruit and vegetables or providing beautiful blooms for a flower display is really satisfying. But not everyone has the time, the energy, the space or the knowledge to run their own vegetable patch, allotment or garden.

The answer is to set up a shared garden scheme to share the work, the cost and, of course the harvest!
That’s what a group of people in West Bridgford did just over a year ago. And they’ve been reaping the benefits ever since.

"Taking on an allotment single-handed can be quite ambitious – especially if you don’t have a lot of time, don’t know much about cultivation or if your health isn’t up to it," explains project co-ordinator Karina Wells. "What we did was gather together a group of 12 families, rent four allotments, divide up the costs of things like seeds and equipment, and split the work between us. It’s worked so other families are joining us."

In fact, their scheme has been so successful that have been awarded a £1,180 grant from Shell Better Britain to build a mini classroom and greenhouse on their allotments so that they can hold talks and workshops. Karina has also been granted a Millennium Award to help spread the word about the garden sharing idea.

Each member pledges to do two hours work at the allotments each week, and rotas are drawn up to allocate tasks. Different beds are dedicated to vegetables, fruit or flowers, and some may be left fallow. Everything is organically grown. During harvesting members take just enough for one day at a time but, in the event of a glut, Karina divides up the extra spoils.

"We have grown some beautiful, tasty fruits and vegetables, and one of the lovely things about it is we know exactly where our food has come from," explains Karina. "There’s also been a tremendous social side to the project. People enjoy working alongside each other, and we’ve organised workshops on things like composting. We also hold social events.

The harvest has ranged from beans and beetroot to cauliflowers, carrots and corn, and the group has also grown herbs, flowers and several different types of fruit.

Pat Temple, one of the scheme’s members says sharing the work makes it more enjoyable. "And it’s so much easier. If you go on holiday you are not worried about the watereing. It’s quite different going down to do two or three hours work than going into your own garden and having to be constantly working. I really enjoy it."

Visit the shared garden’s website at
Contact your local council for details of allotment availability. The cost of renting an allotment varies, but those being worked on by the project cost an average of £21.50 each per year.
Contact the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners on 01536 266576 or visit the website at

Louise Duffield

Article photography by Robert Hayes, Phone Nottingham (UK) 0115 963 5172

Published in:
Choice Magazine, May 2002,
and reproduced here with permission.

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