It must be a common experience to see your shed standing proud on your plot of land and then to wanna move in – permenantly. To totally immerse yourself in allotment living, and the good life is so very tempting.
An article in the guardian describes a fellow who did exactly that and what I found so truly heart-warming and grin-provoking is that he got away with it and is supported by his fellow plot-holders!
Interview by Ros Anderson
Saturday August 25, 2007
It wasn’t my intention to live on my allotment. I was renting a one- bedroom flat in south-west London, on a very low income. I needed a garden shed, so I started collecting scrap material from skips. Before I knew it, I had built a shed that was bigger than necessary. I was enjoying it more down here than I was in my flat, so I thought, “Why not give living here a go for a while?”
It was pretty basic at first – one room with a wood-burning stove. Security wasn’t an issue because I had nothing of any value to lose. A lot of the sheds have been broken into, but mine doesn’t have a lock, so it never has – it’s less tempting.
That first summer, the council came to see me. I assumed I’d be turfed off, but they didn’t seem to give a stuff – they just asked me to lower the roof. From then I started thinking about staying long-term and upgrading. I expanded to two rooms, plastered, painted and added a toilet. There’s no electricity and rainwater is collected in a butt, gravity-fed to the sink.
I’d just finished the improvements when I came home one night to find a candle I’d left had burned down the whole building. It was a shock, but I rebuilt quickly. I haven’t painted or made it pretty this time. I’ve got curtains, tables and chairs, but very little that’s personal. I didn’t want to “finish” it because of the heartache of losing the first one – I’m much more attached to this way of living than I am to the building itself. It’s the garden around it that I take pride in. The skills I’ve learned there have allowed me to earn a living as a gardener and to help put something back into the allotments – I’ve taken on a lot of maintenance and made good friends with my neighbours. They’re 70-plus and give me great strength.
It’s always been “one more year”, but I’ve lived here 10 years now. I wonder how long it can last. House prices in the area are unbelievable and I worry this is a prime bit of real estate to be sold off. I couldn’t go back to the flat I was in – that was hell: tiny, on a main road, no garden.
Because I’m here on my own at night, everything within the gates of the allotments feels like home. Living here has given me freedom not to work like mad to keep a roof over my head. It makes my life a lot freer. I do a lot of meditation and a lot of voluntary work. And, of course, I spend hours and hours every week in the garden. That’s what I’m addicted to, being near my creation.