Friday, June 30, 2006

What is an allotment?

In these days of easy international communication it is sometimes easy to forget that some terms in English that we take for granted are not understood by everybody around the world. This post is the result of one of the readers of my blog who lives in Singapore contacting me and asking me what an allotment is. Below is my reply to his question.

Allotments are plots of land that can be owned by the local town or village council, the church, a farmer, or even by a company. The owner then allows portions or "allotments" of land to be rented by local individuals for the purpose of raising vegetables and fruit. There are fairly strict rules about what can and can not be done on an allotment and they vary from one allotment site to another. In some areas allotment holders are allowed to keep livestock like chickens and pigeons whilst in others it is strictly forbidden.

The allotment that my wife Ann and I rent is administered by the York City Council and we pay them an annual rent. The site was owned by a business man in the area and when he died he left it to the Parish of Heworth, the area where we live, to be used for the enjoyment of those residing in the parish. During and after the second world war the whole site was covered in allotments but there has a been a great decline in interest in the area and much of the site has become overgrown with long grass and thorny brambles. This in turn discourages new allotment holders from taking on plots. Recently though there has been some interest and plots are begining to be taken up again.

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