Garden And Gardener

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The Great Allotment Waiting List Conudrum

by Diane - April 4th, 2024.
Filed under: allotment.

The Great Allotment Waiting List Conundrum


I get contacted as the allotment site secretary about allotments. People ask in all sorts of different ways for an allotment plot. Some of them have an idea there might be a long wait, or a list and some expect – or even demand – to be allocated a plot instantly.


I ask them where they live and then share with them a map of the allotments in our borough, pointing out ones they will literally drive past to get to our site. I always suggest they apply to those closest to where they live but make it clear they are welcome to visit our site and go on our waiting list.

The visit to our allotment is a great tool to help weed out the allotment-unready. People who don’t want to pop down and have a look are not keen. I can’t imagine turning down a visit to an allotment site and have been known to spend holidays peering through fences and over walls at allotment sites to see what happens in other parts of the country.

I keep the details in a spreadsheet so I can contact them when they reach the top of the list. Sadly, getting to the top of the list takes time and often by the time I contact them their circumstances have changed or the desire for an allotment has gone off. Sometimes I wonder if that’s because it’s a rainy day and if I waited until the sun was shining, they’d be full of enthusiasm for the great outdoors again.


We get contacts from all over the borough. Some people live 6 or 7 miles away and still think it’s feasible to put their name on our list.

The reality is that driving 7 miles here and 7 miles home to water your tomatoes is actually both time consuming and expensive in terms of fuel costs.  Google Directions tells me exactly how long it’ll take and where the traffic jams are.

One of the problems where we live is we’re at the low end of the county and many people higher up will experience different weather and not bother coming to our allotment site even though the sun will be out and it’ll be a couple of degrees warmer down here.

I try to discourage people from committing to long journeys not just because of the weather differences but because of traffic. I have had one lady bring the key back on her second visit after the traffic jam took her 40 minutes to get here. Another person visited once in two months and didn’t get past their probationary period. It’s not always the distance. Sometimes it’s just not the right time for people to take on an allotment. I’m always happy to skip over someone if the time isn’t right – and come back to them when another plot comes up. But I need to know.


I refresh this data list annually to check I have people’s correct details still, that they’ve not moved and that they’re still interested in an allotment here. This is the interesting bit.

I phrase the words carefully to elicit a reply. Those people who reply quickly are eager and desperate for an allotment. I know they’ll respond quickly when I actually have a plot for them to come and view.
Sometimes people will have found an alternative site. Sometimes people don’t reply to my email to tell me – and I’m forced into a position where I’m almost harassing people to get a response from them.
I once had someone come back to me 20 weeks after I’d sent him messages asking if he was interested in an allotment. He was keen but again failed to respond to any messages when it was his turn for a plot.

And then there’s the stickiest conundrum of just how persistent should I be in chasing people when they’re at the top of the list? A phone call, email and a text over a couple of days should be sufficient. Very few people go completely off grid for any length of time these days.
I once left it ten days and several messages – only getting an answer service, so I assumed they were on holiday and had left the phones at home. But no, it turned out they just didn’t want an allotment any more and responding to a text with a simple no thanks for just too much.
I get that most people don’t answer the phone to unknown callers and my number will show up in most people’s phones as just a number. But it’s just plain rude and frustrating when people don’t respond to emails, texts or calls.


And yes, you could probably guess from my rant, I have a plot to let and have made contact three times with someone and they’ve not responded. The next person on the list has also had their data check email and hasn’t responded to that.
Spring has sprung and the weeds are growing every day – let me let this plot soon. I know it’s not an emergency to get someone on the plot but every day that does past is a day someone isn’t starting to sow seeds for spring.