Why I’m giving up my allotment.

At Leeds Minimalist Club last month, we talked about simplifying our lives. As I mentioned the other day, I’m really keen on focusing my time on the things that really matter to me, so simplifying is a great way to focus and make time for my passions. One of which is the allotment. Or, should I say, allotments. Plural…

I’ve had my first plot for eight years. I’ve put hours of toil into it, and my children have played there ever since they were born. I’ve got my beloved cordoned apple trees, raised beds, herb patches and much more. My memories are interwoven with every square foot of soil. In contrast, the new plot is mostly covered in creeping buttercup, with an old pear tree, some compost bins and a giant sage plant.  There’s a huge amount of work to be done.

New allotment, in need of work!

But I like the new allotment site. It’s huge, with over 200 plots, compared to just four on my first site. With that comes a sense of community — a shop, seasonal shows, bee-keeping courses, and chat over cups of tea every Sunday morning. I’m encouraged by conversations with plot neighbours every time I visit, and am inspired by the variety in management styles and plot designs that I wander through on my way to dig out all that damn buttercup.

My original plan was to manage two sites. Yep, with my work and family and everything else, I wanted to manage two half-allotment plots on two different sites across a city. Last week I visited my first allotment, and in the quiet, I had time to reflect on it. On my relationship with it. As any allotment holder can tell you, they’re much more than just a piece of land. Being an allotment holder is a part of who I am. But, sitting at my old plot, I asked myself this:

How should I feel about this allotment? And, how do I really and truly feel about it?

I should feel happy, proud, contented, peaceful, glad. But all I feel at the moment when I visit my old plot is stress. Stress that it isn’t what it could be because there aren’t enough hours in the day. Anxiety that my plot neighbours are annoyed with me for not managing it properly–one of them has sprayed weedkiller along the edge of it, so I know that’s true. And, when I’m truly honest, I know that the plot belongs to an old life, a previous relationship and a different home. By trying to keep it as well as my new one, that I’m just making myself unhappy.

And so, with a lot of tears, I’ve decided to give it up. I’m taking what I can with me, including my apple trees and whatever structures will make the journey, and saying goodbye. It’s like the final piece of closing the door on my old life.

Yes, my new plot is mostly buttercup. But it will become more than that. It is a place to make new memories, where my boyfriend and I can grow a future together (pun completely intended!). Where my kids will again have a patch of their own. And where I can feel happy because I’ve made the decision to simplify. To have one great allotment instead of two poor ones. Plus, now someone else gets the chance to make memories of their own on my old plot, which is a nice thing to remember.

Sunny allotment

For ages, I’ve resisted giving up my old plot because it felt like failure. But it’s not. Knowing when to quit is definitely a positive thing. I’ve put myself back in control of my life, and after the tears, I’ve realised how much tension it was causing in me. There’s definite relief to have one less complication in my life.  This feels like the start of a complete new allotment journey, and one that I will be sharing here. Each month, I’ll update the blog with photos on our progress. I’m excited all over again…



22 Responses to Why I’m giving up my allotment.

  1. elaine says:

    I know how you feel – I had to give up my plot a year ago and it made me very sad – but although I loved working there I just couldn’t really keep it up – it was all getting a bit much for me to handle on top of looking after the garden at home.- I feel better just having a small kitchen garden where I am still able to produce most of our food. Sometimes simplifying and cutting down your workload is the right decision. I hope you will be happy on your new plot and look forward to seeing your progress.
    elaine recently posted…Just a Few Last Jobs …My Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      It sounds like we’ve been in a really similar situation. I think that simplifying things will make me happier – and if i can really make a good job of the new plot, it should still keep us well fed! I’m happy to be sharing our progress here too 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    Definitely sounds like the right choice. Abs, as you say, it’s a fantastic opportunity for someone new to get their first allotment and grow their own set of memories.
    Dave recently posted…WetMy Profile

  3. Cerys says:

    When I saw the title I was a bit like “whaaaat?” I’ve only met you once and you obviously love these allotments of yours. But it does sound like the right decision. I’m all for simplifying!
    Cerys recently posted…{captured} morningsMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      It feels good to have finally braved the decision to let go! But, yes, I do love my plot and will be throwing everything into making the new one great 🙂

  4. Helen Lay says:

    I didn’t realise the two allotments were in different parts of the city – definitely makes sense to let go of your old one -let someone else have the opportunity to grow and make memories there and you all concentrate on the new allotment. Looking forward to seeing how the new one develops.
    Helen Lay recently posted…Finish along finish Number 2 – Date Night PurseMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes, one is next to my old house, and one close to my new home! It really does feel like the right thing to do. I’m glad I’ve braved the decision instead of fooling myself that I was coping…

  5. Miss Tulip says:

    Well done for making such a difficult decision. I can relate a lot to what you describe e in terms of guilt and feeling like a failure but also about looking at things realistically and being able to let something go to reduce stress and worry. I find decisions like this are very difficult yet, after the initial upset of the end, it suddenly feel like a weight lifted- not just because the ‘thing’ in your case your old allotment has gone, but also the emotional baggage has gone too.
    I have started my journey to a more self-sufficient life but haven’t, until recently, considered the minimalist approach. To me, the whole practice of minimalism feels too serious and unnecessary, but the more I think about it and read about it I am drawn to the idea of less clutter and baggage. But I don’t think I would go the whole way, maybe just take a few steps to a more minimalist lifestyle.
    Hope you enjoy your new allotment
    Miss Tulip x
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hello! Thank you for your lovely comment. For me, minimalism is about being mindful of the ‘stuff’ I have. If i truly love something, it stays, but if I don’t either love it or find it useful, then it goes. By buying less, I have more money for doing things too, which is what I love. Taking a couple of small steps and seeing how it feels is a really good way to start!

      I definitely feel relieved to have admitted that I’m not coping, and deciding to let the plot go has left me feeling better… x

  6. Sounds like a good plan, no idea how you would manage two plots. Great that you have such a sense of community at your new site.
    Emma Greenwood recently posted…40/52My Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yeah, I like that too – it’s much better to have lots of other folk around – I feel like I’m a part of something.

  7. Mummy Plum says:

    I did a double take when I saw the title of this post. I am so glad you will still have one allotment. I can completely understand how letting go is hard, but it sounds to me like you’re doing the right thing.

    I haven’t been commenting much recently but did just want to add that Pip and I loved your post on the fortune tellers in the summer. Took me right back and we had great fun making ours. Thanks.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hello! Lovely to hear from you – I too have been quiet online recently, ‘real’ life has got in the way of lots of online time. I’m so glad you liked the fortune teller post! 🙂

  8. Carlie says:

    Oh, you’re a strong girl. I find it immensely hard to let go of things, but have realised how freeing it is when I do. Wish you hugest happiness with your new plot, and building your new memories. Life: roll on!
    Carlie recently posted…On Walking: Sunday 5th OctoberMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you! It’s taken me so long to pluck up the courage, honestly. But I have a huge sense of relief, so I think it’s the right thing to do…

  9. Manneskjur says:

    You have done the right thing and hopefully it’ll mean more time to savour the new allotment. I can’t wait to read your updates!
    Manneskjur recently posted…Magazine Monday: Lodestars AnthologyMy Profile

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  11. Floss says:

    I totally understand, I thought I was the only soppy one who shed tears over leaving my allotment!
    I had mine for 10 years since moving up to yorkshire, and it has been a great place full of happy memories with the children, now we are all bigger and older – priorities change. I only hope that someone will love my plot as much as we have.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hello – so sorry, i’ve only just seen this lovely comment. Not the only one at all, it’s been such a tough decision. I completely understand how you must have felt. I’m sure it’s well loved by its new plot holders and they’ll be making happy memories of their own now 🙂

  12. Lauren says:

    I agreed with so much of what you said with in this post. I’m a student, so along with normal life, homework and chill time, I have tried to look after an allotment. It’s only 5 or so mins down the road, but this little walk always poses a mental block. I’ve had the plot for just over a year now, and have a made moderate progress. However, after an exciting development in my front garden (a FREE 2nd hand greenhouse!!!!), the allotment is beginning to look like more of a burden than a gain. Giving it up, though, does seem like I am living up to a stereotype: young and eager person gets allotment but soon gives it up. I wanted to do so much with it, but there I can’t be down there 24/7. I am trying to get my heart and head round to the idea of letting it go so a person who really needs it can use it. I wish it didn’t feel as though I had failed, however! I guess you have to look at the little accomplishments that have happened, like clearing part of the plot or growing a summer’s worth of produce. I wish you all the best with your new challenge and pursuit of a simpler life!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hello! Thank you for your lovely comment. I absolutely agree – it’s really important to celebrate the little accomplishments when you’ve got limited time to spend on your allotment or garden. Trying to compete with older people who’re retired and have lots of time and experience is really demoralising – and it’s not really doing yourself justice for all you HAVE managed to do. A free greenhouse sounds like a really exciting opportunity to develop your own garden instead. I wish you lots of luck with it – and you haven’t failed – no matter what. Anything you grow or learn from the experience of allotment owning means you’ve got success to be proud of. Good luck!

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