It’s a common format now; you need something so you download an app to locate and link up with whoever can provide it. Looking for a holiday rental? There’s an app for that. Need to borrow a bike? Get the app. And so on, you get the idea. One recently increasing demand is people looking for garden space, and now thanks to AllotMe, there’s an app for this too.
1. A new trend
We’ve already got the Millennial obsession with house plants, add to that the multiple lockdowns of the past year leading to people’s increasing realisation of the need of access to open, green space and the uptake of new hobbies like gardening, and it’s not surprising this demand has come about. However, despite the high demand being there, the supply is not. In the UK, allotment waiting lists are notoriously decades long, and the pandemic only served to increase this. After recent lockdowns the country’s National Allotment Society reported a more than 300 per cent increase in applications in certain areas, making these lists tens of years longer and apparently leaving one allotment in Leeds with a waiting list of 170 years! But there is more supply out there; plenty of abandoned spaces and untouched gardens, perhaps owned by people uninterested in growing or who just don’t have the time or ability. Either way, there is untapped potential, and this is what AllotMe wants to change.
2. How it works
Architect Conor Gallagher is the brains behind the idea, and recently launched the new digital platform designed to connect these unused spaces to the people who are desperate to tend them. The ‘Airbnb for gardens’ allows people with unused green spaces (Hosts) to rent them out to would-be growers looking for land (Greenfingers). According to their website, AllotMe ‘want it to be easy for anyone to have access to a sustainable way to source their food. Through research and development projects, we search for solutions to the growing issue in our cities of food resourcing. By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of the earth’s population will be living in cities, which is why we believe in the importance of having sustainable infrastructure in place to feed the growing population.
As the website explains, prices for the plot are set by the platform’s Hosts, usually according to the pricing guide depending on the size of their garden. All the prices are displayed for people to view before requesting to rent. The minimum length for any garden rental is 1 season or 3 months, meaning Greenfingers should have plenty of time to get started and hopefully see some fresh vegetables appear. Access varies between spaces, but each garden details how it is accessed before being rented and renters are connected with each host so they can agree on the best times to get growing. The going rate for a plot is currently between £15 and £30 a month, depending on size, with part of the fee going to AllotMe who provides insurance, or a ‘garden guarantee’, for those renting out their spaces.
3. Reasons to get involved
As AllotMe points out, in England’s capital city of London less than 40% of people have their own private garden space, but there are many who still want the opportunity to eat healthier and more sustainably by producing their own food on their own patch of land. And this is not a desire unique to London. There are many benefits to gardening and growing your own food, including reducing your carbon footprint through less travel to grocery stores, saving money on food (AllotMe says that even after payment of their plot, people could save between £500 – £1300 per year on food) and improving your mental health. AllotMe actually launched during Mental Health Awareness Week, and reminds people that spending as little as 2 hours per week gardening has been linked with significant improvements to mental wellbeing. Then of course you also get tastier and healthier food without preservatives or harmful chemicals.
4. How to get involved
Positive News reported that in the first week of launching, more than 1,000 people signed up to the AllotMe waiting list in London alone, with others signing up all over the UK. The founder hopes that as popularity and awareness for the platform grows, more people will offer up their spaces as more are needed to meet the platform’s demand. To get involved, see if AllotMe operates in your are (or maybe get it going there!) or for more information see here.