On Allotment data we aim to highlight and write about the data we have and are continuing to collect for the UK. So far we have done this through making a large Freedom of Information Act Request (full details here) and are still processing this data. We felt that there was a need to have a national data set containing this information so that people could easily compare things like:
- Cost of renting an allotment
- Water charges
- Possible discounts available
- Cost to the council of waste removal
- Waiting list numbers
- Terms and conditions of tenancy agreements
Margaret Campbell (from Transition Town West Kirby), working with the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, has for the last three years produced a series of excellent reports highlighting the serious waiting list issue. We are working hard to extend this effort with additional data, specifically highlight (increased) rent charges and changes to tenancy agreements. As our short-write up in The Guardian, The English allotment lottery, showed there is much variation across the UK. In the current economic climate it is likely that councils will make further changes and we hope by collecting this information centrally, we offer a useful service for anyone interested in allotments across the UK.
Although it is tempting to simply highlight some of these issues in different ways, with additional data and snazzy visualisations, we are keen to stress that whilst there is an issue with councils not providing more sites, it is also clear that they are not exactly in a position to necessarily do so given the current climate of cuts. So therefore we are also interested in exploring alternative solutions to the waiting list crisis. For example by identifying underused plots of lands (brown field sites and others), which could serve as temporary growing spaces (and going beyond the Landshare initiative, which highlights agreements between individuals), pop-up allotments anyone? We are currently working on this with the help of many amazing people, including Open Data Manchester, The Open Knowledge Foundation as well as a range of organisations already doing similar work in various locations across the country. We hope to have an update on this soon!
On this blog we will highlight what is going on with allotments across the country, focusing on specific regions and issues. We will do our best to post frequently on information coming out of the data sets. Issues that we think may be of interest to the people who we hope will enjoy reading this blog.