Europe really is better...

>> Thursday, April 26, 2007

But i'm sure you already know that. Thanks to treehugger dot com, i am now absolutely more convinced that the UK is miles and miles of green ahead of us.

Apparently, for a nominal yearly fee, the government lets out 200-400 metre plots of land to families or individuals to grow their own produce. A tool shed and space for work is usually included on the plot, and they are allowed to grow fruits, veggies, and flowers for their personal consumption. Their fee is determined by their financial status, and since 1950, they are only made to pay what they can within reason. In 1997, the average 250 metre plot cost 22 pounds, about $50 dollars for that whole year.

After doing some research, i've found that allotting has been practiced in Europe since the early 1700's, Copenhagen and Stockholm are just a few large names on the list. The effect of allotments on history has been staggering, they have saved hundreds during the world wars. Produce from the all too distant countryside took weeks to reach the cities, only to rot or be sold for high prices on the black market. When the rural landscape and sprawling country eventually lay in waste, people relied on allotments and neighborhood gardens for food. Recently, in 2003 the first allotment program was set into motion in the Phillipines, funded by, yep, you guessed it, the European Union, encouraged by the German embassy located in Manila. They have since seen a rise in overall health and decline in drug/gang related activities, which have been, in part, credited to the allotment lifestyle.

In the 2006 issue of the London Assembly, the Environmental Committee outlined theses key points as the major benefits of allotments today: Dignity, Health, Environment, Financial, Community, Diversity. Their word choice may not be perfect, but the social, economic, emotional, physical benefits are impossible to miss. Sadly, the UK is losing some of their allotments due to diminishing land structure, poor record keeping by plot overseers, and the upcoming "green" Olympics in 2012. Manor Garden is a 100 + year old allotment site which will be bulldozed in order to build for the Olympics. The good news? After the Olympics are held, the comapcted, bulldozed, leached, plant free area will go right back to the plotholders, minus the 100 year old trees that once grew there of course.

Here in the US, we can't do much to stop this from happening. We're not allowed to sign UK petitions or go protest (unless aunt sally has an extra ticket to London), the most we can do is write letters about our concern for our oldest enemy friend. Visit this site for a quick recap of the issue. Letters may be written and addressed to the Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA. (Or faxed to +442079250918 (email me if you fax, so i can make appropriate fun of you))

For more information on allotments, visit Wikipedia or The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardening Society. And for a great family allotment blog, check out the Warmans, they're a lovely family!


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