We often think of allotments, with a history dating back to the enclosure acts, as being exclusively British. The truth is that the concept of small parcels of land rented out to individuals to grow food crops on is quite common in Europe. In Amsterdam there are small allotments given over to leisure gardens and in France I’ve noticed allotment plots as well.
Unlike our allotments with their collections of ramshackle constructions made from recycled materials, the French allotments boasted identical semi-detached sheds, built from brick and with running water. Nice as they were, I prefer the anarchic appearance of our sites.
If you visit the chat forums, you may well have noticed posts by gardening authors Clodagh and Dick Handscombe who live the good life in rural Spain. Surprisingly, to me at least, they have an allotment over there of 800 square metres. That’s about 3 standard allotment plots in the UK.
They’ve written a long article about the differences between allotments in Spain and allotments in the UK. In fact it was a little long for one web page so I’ve split it into 2 articles, well worth a read if you’re hankering for sunnier climates.
Cuba was a military dictatorship and was also a tourist hot spot offering gambling and less savoury pastimes to the Americans being located just a short sea journey away in the Caribbean. In 1959 a guerrilla war successfully overthrew the government replacing it with a socialist government. This somewhat annoyed the USA who imposed an economic embargo which continues to this day. Perhaps the Mafia involvement in Cuba and their losing their casinos etc has something to do with USA holding a grudge to this day when they’ve managed to forgive countries like Vietnam.
Cuba was propped up by the Soviet Union until that superpower collapsed which left them with a problem. Short of oil and raw materials, at economic war with the Americans and short of everything they had no option but to develop alternatives.
To produce their food, without the benefit of imported oil based fertilisers, the Cubans were effectively forced into organic agriculture. Whatever the politics, you have to admire the inventive and effective solutions they have come up with in response to challenges and attempts to starve them into submission to Washington’s will.
The Handscombes have put together an article detailing some lessons of value to us in the UK on our allotments.