The design of an allotment plot needs to take account of its intended purpose: therapeutical, hobby or recreational, commercial, self-consumption, or mixed purpose. Allotment gardening is one of the most popular leisure or hobby pursuits in Britain (Crouch and Ward, 1988; Garnett, 1996a). Indeed, allotment management is considered by many people as a leisure activity rather than as a means of growing food (Thorpe, 1975). Thorpe has mentioned that the word ‘allotment’ should be
replaced by the concept of ‘leisure gardens’ because the former has an historical stigma of low income and relative poverty. Additionally, allotment site design should consider not only the individual plots but also communal compost areas, shed(s), recreational areas, and even some occasional space for orchard and woodland. In addition, allotment sites should be strategically located close to demand and as far away from known sources of contamination as possible, such as old railways, bomb sites and some industrial brownfield sites (Perez-Vazquez, 2000).
Information from the participatory studies and semi structured interviews described above (Perez – Vazquez, 2000) suggest that women grow more flowers as decorative plants on allotments and are not likely to follow classic rules of planting. Herbs, flowers, vegetables and potatoes are likely to be equally important for them. Many women tend to prefer an informally managed plot. Some female allotment holders are reluctant to kill even weeds and pests such as slugs. By contrast, most male
Figure 20.4 Crop rotation design as managed by a female allotment holder (Perez-Vazquez, 2000).
holders tend to give priority to potato, onion and soft-fruit production. They tend to grow plants in straight lines and keep plots neat, and free of weeds and pests (Perez-Vazquez, 2000).