Duties of an Allotment Gardener


The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd.

The prime duty of any plot holder is to abide by the terms of the tenancy agreement and to respect his/her fellow plot holders. This blanket statement covers a range of specific duties, but could best be summed up by ensuring that, in all aspects of his/her allotment gardening, common sense is applied.

The allotment must be kept clean, especially of obnoxious weeds, and maintained in a good state of cultivation. There is a legal duty not to do anything to change the nature of the plot so as to impair its value; crop rotation, application of manure/compost and prevention of soil borne diseases are essential aspects of this duty practiced by every good gardener.

The allotment gardener must not cause a nuisance or annoyance to fellow plot holders paths must not be obstructed. Again, a common sense approach will ensure that fires are regulated to see that smoke does not annoy others, spraying is done in calm conditions to prevent spray drifting onto neighbours crops, rubbish is not accumulated on the plot or surrounding paths, adjoining hedges/trees are cut and trimmed and any fences and gates are kept in good repair.

The allotment fire is probably one of the greatest causes of annoyance to others, and care should be taken to check wind direction when lighting, in addition to siting the fire so that it will not scorch neighbours' crops. A Smokey fire which causes a nuisance may contravene section 16 of the Clean Air Act 1956 and the Environmental Health can take action in the Magistrates Court resulting in a fine of up to 2000. Again, anyone lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a highway faces a fine of up to 2000 under the Highways (Amendment) Act 1986

The status of allotment gardening in the local community should, for the benefit of the whole allotment movement, be maintained and upgraded by keeping allotment sites, and individual plots, both tidy and pleasing to the eye. Every plot holder can assist In achieving this aim by keeping paths and roadways trimmed and tidy, by avoiding "shanty town" type sheds, by avoiding the use of unsightly materials for wind breaks, and by planning the layout of the plot. How many plot holders would wish to see rusted corrugated Iron windbreaks and such like In their home gardens?

The tenancy agreement does not permit sub-letting, forbids the use of the allotment for the carrying on of a trade or business, and demands that rent must be paid on time. The plot holders have a duty to conform with tenancy conditions, and must observe "the landlord's requirements not only to protect their own tenancies, but also to ensure that the site is not brought into disrepute. 

Whilst all plot holders wish to protect their crops from vandalism and theft, it must be remembered "that barbed wire cannot be used for fencing adjoining paths/roads. On secure sites with fencing and lockable gates, do take a minute or so to lock entrance gates and check perimeter fences - your crops, and those of your fellow plot holders, can be saved by having close regard to these matters.

The 1950 Act allows for hens (but not cockerels) and rabbits to be kept on an allotment (but all livestock should be enclosed) and to erect any such building or structure as is necessary for that purpose. However, hens/rabbits must not be kept in such a place or in such a manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Again, any necessary construction/building should be reasonable in construction/appearance and erected in such a way as to ensure that livestock cannot escape and eat neighbour's crops

The common law duty of care to visitors and their safety has to be borne in mind, as must the law relating to protected birds and wild animals, no matter how much damage to crops they may cause.

Allotment sites could be made much more attractive by plot holders taking the trouble to edge plots with a few flowers and so enhance the site's overall appearance. If plot holders can make their site attractive, more people will be encouraged to take plots and so help to ensure the site's future. Could you not spare a little time to keep weeds/grass cut on vacant allotment plots?

Allotment holders are renowned for demanding that their landlords undertake work on sites and provide facilities. Remember, though, that you - the plot holder - also have a duty to play your part in maintaining the site and a number of obligations.