AllotMe: Pairing outdoor space with people in cities who want to grow their own food

A digital platform described as “Airbnb for gardens” has been launched to help tackle a chronic shortage of available outdoor space to grow fruit and vegetables in major cities across the UK.

AllotMe pairs anybody with available outdoor space with people seeking somewhere to grow their own – known on the platform as ‘Greenfingers’ ­– allowing them to rent plots in just a few clicks.

The web-based platform was created by architect and entrepreneur Conor Gallagher in response to rising demand for space in the face of diminishing availability in urban environments – particularly in London – where some areas have waiting lists of up to 40 years for allotments.

More than 80% of the UK population currently lives in cities, with one in eight homes without any garden space at all. In the UK capital of London, the figure increases to one in five.

AllotMe is the brainchild of North Belfast-born Conor Gallagher, who was inspired to set up the digital platform following his move to London, where he noticed that although people wanted to “eat more healthily, ethically, and sustainably”, it was a challenge due to barriers such as a lack of space or excessive cost.

Conor Gallagher said: “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.

“As an architect, I’m trained to spot opportunities in space, and it dawned on me when passing an overgrown and unloved garden that there is an untapped reservoir of outdoor space in London that is going unused, so why not bring the two together.

“Transporting food in and around the UK produces 19 million tonnes of CO2 annually – that’s the equivalent of 5.5million cars. It’s statistics like this that are driving people towards more sustainable living, and AllotMe gives those in urban environments the option to play their part.

“Passive sustainability is a big part of it too. Hosts, for a wide variety of reasons may not be able to use their outdoor space, but by letting somebody rent it and use it to grow food, they are enabling a contribution to a greener society and playing a part too.

“We hope that every time somebody rents or lists through AllotMe, comes a reflection on the impact that can be made by every individual through their day-to-day choices.”

AllotMe has gained support from the traditional allotment community, who see it as a means of making more of available green spaces.

There are already more than 1,000 people on the AllotMe waiting list in London, with others joining throughout the UK every day. Some of the spaces listed on AllotMe include urban gardens in Manchester and freshly dug allotment plots in Edinburgh.

Image Credit: AllotMe Facebook page

AllotMe

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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