Allotments during lockdown

We are all right now living through an historic ‘moment’, the most significant global occurrence of the 21st century thus far. The coronavirus pandemic will be far more significant that the 2008 financial crisis or the September 11th attacks, or any other global event of the past 20 years. The consequences will be far reaching and long lasting. There will be economic damage, and there will be societal change. The societal change will lead to far greater value being placed on food, and its sources. Suddenly huge portions of society have had their eyes opened; what happens if the supermarket shelves are not stocked? Huge portions of the most ‘wealthy’ people in our world, are in fact only a few meals from starvation. If the truck doesn’t arrive to stock their local supermarket, no amount of technology, designer clothes or fancy cars will put a meal on the table.

Beech Park Allotments have remained open during the past number of weeks, and will not close. Restrictions have been introduced, these amount to just sensible precautions. No going onto other people’s plots, etc. The government guidelines introducing the ‘lockdown’ rightly contained exemptions for anyone travelling to tend crops. This means that people are entitled to come to the allotments even if they live more than 2km away, as the 2km applies to travel for daily exercise.

I was very disappointed to hear that local authorities have closed their allotment sites. My heart goes out to the many hundreds of allotmenters who would have spent all winter making plans and preparations for this season, only to be locked out at the key time, and just as the sun came out! I am sorry to say, there is no logic behind the decision to close council allotment sites. A human being needs to eat. One way of sourcing food is to grow it yourself. Another way is to buy it in a supermarket. Which carries greater risk of transmitting a virus, going to a supermarket or going to your allotment? The Councils are sending a message: We are being forced through the doors of supermarkets to feed ourselves. These supermarkets are owned by some of the richest families in the country, make enormous profits and source all of their food from mass producers, located hundreds and maybe thousands of kms away from the location of the supermarket. For a local authority to cut people off from the chance to grow their own is just the wrong move. No doubt they will be reopened, hopefully soon.

The ‘lockdown’ is temporary, it too shall pass. The long term impact of this all will be felt for may years, but alas that will only be fully understood looking back many years from now. For the moment, keep planting and good luck to all growers for the 2020 season!

Ray McDermott, April 2020