Allotments

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Description

In England community gardens are referred to as allotments, dating back centuries and being a genuine artifact of social demands for land to grow food.


Discussion

George McKay dissects the history and practice of community gardens to show the subversive kernel still buried in the plots.

- “Its anti-capitalism is most clear in two fundamental features of the allotment: firstly, the astonishingly low rents charged for plots by local authorities, which is a powerfully consistent rejection of spiraling urban land market values; secondly, the legislative fact that, by and large produce grown by allotmenteers cannot be sold commercially for profit. The standard treatment of a surplus or seasonal glut is to give it away: the allotment is predicated on a social and economic practice defined by, in David Crouch and Colin Ward’s term, ‘the gift relationship.’ In their view, an anarchistic ‘combination of self-help and mutual aid… characterizes the allotment world.’ Furthermore, it is a nationwide public socio-horticultural experiment that has endured and transformed itself for over a century, it is on the allotment, among the bean frames and sheds, the DIY glasshouses and the patchwork of dirty labour, that we should look for a quiet seasonal extremism…

As Thomas Jellis puts it, today, for many allotmenteers, their earthy work-leisure

- has come to express a tactical, grounded resistance to global capital and its negative environmental impact. Allotments and local foods can be seen as broader movements to re-localise and are often imagined as being in opposition to the conventional food system… Allotments are now also much more open, allowing women to sign-up and accepting people regardless of their nationality or background. This cultural multiplicity grants allotments resilience and durability, allowing them to adapt to change and disturbance. (http://www.processedworld.com/carlsson/nowtopian/book-reviews/thinking-about-growing-food)

Source: Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism & Rebellion in the Garden” (By George McKay, Frances Lincoln Limited Publishers, London: 2011).