If you’ve ever applied for an allotment, you’ll be well aware of the long waiting lists, which can vary from one year to 40, depending on where you live.
Demand for allotments surged during lockdown, too, with the National Allotment Society reporting an uplift of more than 300% last year. It can be seriously frustrating if you live in a home with limited or no outdoor space.
But green-fingered enthusiasts now have another option, thanks to the launch of an Airbnb-style rental platform for gardens.
AllotMe allows people across the UK to rent their spare outdoor space to those seeking somewhere to grow their own fruit, veg and plants. The minimum length for any garden rental is one season or three months and, just like Airbnb, hosts set the price. Current listings are around £20-£25 per month.
The platform was created by architect-turned-entrepreneur Conor Gallagher in response to the rising demand for green space – particularly in London, where people wait years to secure allotment space.
More than 80% of the UK population lives in cities, and one in eight homes don’t have any garden space at all – a figure rising to one in five in London.
“After I moved to London, I saw how people wanted to eat more healthily, ethically, and sustainably but it was increasingly difficult for the majority due to barriers such as a lack of space or excessive cost,” says Gallagher, who’s originally from Belfast.
“I was aware of so many people with no garden or access to outdoor space, and of the difficulty verging on the impossibility of obtaining an allotment through traditional routes. It became apparent there is a huge desire for sustainable living, but no way of satisfying it.”
On the platform, hosts are able to list their garden space for free and choose how much of their garden people can use. All they need to submit is the size of the plot, some photos and information on how to access the space.
Gallagher became the platform’s first host, echoing Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, who were the first to post their own home for rent on the platform. He has rented his garden out to Corrie Rounding, from south London, who’s already started transforming the space.
“The chance to grow my own is so therapeutic,” says Rounding. “I love how calming it is to work in outdoor space. I can definitely see how this could become something really big. It feels strange to be the first, but I like it!”
Hosts from across the UK have already started listing their spaces – from urban gardens in Manchester to freshly-dug allotment plots in Edinburgh. But, once again, demand seems set to outstrip supply – 1,000 people have joined the AllotMe waiting list in London since the site launched earlier this month and are now awaiting notifications of new plots in the city.
Still, if this makes getting a patch that little bit easier, it gets our vote.