Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not answered below, then please read through the Society Rules which contain all the rules and regulations that govern our allotments. If you still cannot find the answer then please email info@shelleyallotments.co.uk.

What is an allotment?

For over a hundred years it has been the responsibility of local authorities to provide plots of land for local residents to cultivate. There are over a quarter of a million allotments in England and Wales.

How big is an allotment?

For legal reasons, the size of an allotment is quoted in rods, an historic unit of measurement.  A typical plot on one of our sites will be either 5 or 10 rods.  A 5 rod plot is approximately equal to 126.5 square metres or 151.3 square yards. This usually means that a plot will be 5m wide by 25m long.

Who can have an allotment?

You need to be over 18 and a resident of the Horsham District.

Why should I get an allotment?

An allotment can provide fresh air, exercise, and tasty fruit and vegetables free from chemicals and with zero food miles. It can also help to reduce the family’s food budget. There’s no tax on what you grow and consume. Gardening is always challenging so it provides stimulus for body and mind. Your plot provides a place to relax, spend time alone or with family and friends.

How big is the waiting list? How long will I have to wait before I get a plot?  Is there much chance of me getting a plot?

The size of the waiting list varies over time. If you express an interest we will let you know how long the waiting list is.  It may be that a plot is available immediately or you may find that you need to wait a few months before one is made available to you.

What happens when I get to the top of the waiting list?

Once your name reaches the top of the list we will contact you, usually by email.  We will arrange a time to meet so that you can view the plot before deciding whether to take it or not.  If you decide that the plot is not for you then you will remain on the waiting list and be offered the next available plot.

How much does an allotment cost?

Plot rents are charged at £7 per rod, per annum. In addition to this a £3 fee is charged, regardless of plot size, for membership of the NSALG.

So, for example, the annual cost of a 5 rod plot is £35 (5 x £7) + £3 = £38;  the cost for a 10 rod is £70 (10 x £7) + £3 = £73

Rents are reviewed annually at the AGM .

 

Is it hard work?

Yes, it can be hard work, especially at the beginning if you take on a plot that is in poor condition. However, once you have the plot in good order, the work needed to maintain it will become easier.

What condition will the be plot be in?

The plot you inherit may be totally dug over and ready to cultivate or be overgrown and waiting for you to improve it (although this is not usually the case). It may have structures such as sheds and greenhouses already on it. You may also inherit mature fruit trees or bushes.

How much time should I set aside to work on my plot?

How much time have you got? Taking on an allotment will involve a significant time commitment. We really don’t want to put anyone off, but if you can’t devote a good few hours per week to the necessary clearing, weeding, digging, sowing, planting, harvesting and general maintenance involved, then you might find it difficult to keep up with everything.  The general rule-of-thumb is that an allotment requires a minimum of one hour per week per rod to keep it in good condition (possibly more in peak growing season). You should remember that you will have to visit during winter months too to keep things ticking over even if no winter crops are planted. Once your plot is dug and your crops start to grow, the necessary weeding, watering and harvesting are more of a pleasure than hard work. It’s more exciting and rewarding than a workout at the gym!

Do please have a really good think about whether allotmenteering is right for you before you decide to sign up; it might be better not to take on a plot at all than to leave an abandoned one for someone else to clear up in a few months.

What am I paying for?

Plot rents go towards the rent payable to the Council for the site, upkeep of the site and site insurance. The mains water supply has to be paid for along with the upkeep of other shared facilities such as the communal shed. The accounts are published each year by the Treasurer at the AGM.

The plot allocated to me is too large can I have a smaller one?

If your plot is 5-rods or larger, then we may be able to divide it and let the other part. However, if your plot size is smaller than 5-rods we would need to transfer you to a smaller plot when one becomes available.  The minimum plot size that we offer is 2.5 rods.

The plot allocated to me is too small can I have larger one?

Yes, we can transfer you to a larger plot once one becomes available.

Are there any rules about what we can and can’t do on our plot?

Yes, a copy of our current rules can be found HERE

Please read these carefully, and abide by them at all times. These rules are essential in order for everyone on the site to be able to enjoy allotment gardening, and for health and safety reasons also.

Note that a minimum standard of cultivation is expected.

I have recently taken on a plot which has existing fruit trees on it,  can I cut these down?

No.  If there are existing fruit trees or structures, please contact us prior to removing them.  The decision is made on a case by case basis.

How many allotment plots are there?

The site currently has 163 plots of various sizes.

What will I need to agree to when I take up a plot?

You will need to sign a plot Tenancy Agreement (“the Agreement”) with the Society. This Agreement will be with a single individual, so if you are a couple or want to share with friends, you will need to decide which one of you will be the named tenant and sign the agreement.

You will need to pay the rent for the first year, and then annually each March if you decide to keep your plot.

Can my plot be taken away from me?

Regular inspections of the plots take place throughout the year. If your plot is not being cultivated or not being kept tidy and weed free, you will be sent a letter advising that you need to improve the state of the plot within a specified time span. This will give you a fair time to sort out any issues, however if the plot continues to remain in an unsatisfactory condition it will be repossessed.

If you discover you are having difficulty with the workload please contact us. Before you take on a plot you may find our “Thinking of Renting an Allotment?” guide useful.

What can I grow?

Practically any variety of fruit and vegetables suitable for the soil on your plot, and flowers of course. These must be for your own use, the sale of produce grown on allotment plots is not permitted. Restrictions apply to fruit trees – see Rules.

Who is responsible for the paths alongside my plot?

The paths around your plot are your responsibility. Click HERE to read our guidance on keeping your paths to the required standard.

What if I can’t keep it up?

If you are unable to cultivate your plot to the standards expects, please let the committee know. It may be possible for them to offer you a smaller plot or to help in other ways.

How will I water my plot?

Self-filling water tanks are located around the site. The cost of watering from tanks is covered by the plot rents. Our water is on a meter and is our single most expensive facility so please use it with care. Only watering cans or buckets are allowed to be used, no hose-pipes.

Do not wash tools, produce, food etc. in the cisterns as this contaminates the water with dirt and organic matter.

The water supply to the site is turned off during winter to avoid frost damage, tanks will still contain water replenished by rainfall. Please read our guidance for water use HERE

It may be possible for you to have a rainwater butt on your plot.

Are there toilets on the site?

Yes, there is a toilet on site and you will be provided with the access code when you join.

How can I dispose of rubbish?

You are encouraged to compost vegetative waste and there is a “burning plot” for old wood etc. Other rubbish needs to be taken away with you.

How can I get manure?

We can suggest suppliers of manure and mushroom compost.

Will I be able to have a shed or greenhouse?

It is possible to erect a greenhouse or shed if the plot is of sufficient size, however you must not erect any building without the prior consent from the Committee. Any building erected must be placed on a non-permanent base, such as paving slabs.

It’s a bit harder than I thought – can I share my plot?

It is possible to register Helpers for your plot. See Rules.

Can I pass my allotment onto someone else?

Your allotment can not be passed to anyone else, this includes family members.  If you are giving up your allotment plot you need to contact us in writing in accordance with your Allotment Tenancy Agreement.

What is a Working Party?

A working party is made up of volunteer plot holders and meets three times a year.  Tasks are allocated according to a volunteer’s preference and skill and can be anything from sweeping up leaves or ditch clearing, to cutting hedges and painting etc.  Any help is appreciated.

Who are the committee?

Committee members are allotment holders who have volunteered to support the work of the Society in maintaining a viable site.  Members of the committee meet regularly to make decisions in the interest of the Society as a whole.  If you feel strongly about the future of the site please consider joining the committee.  A list of Committee Members can be found at the bottom of our Contact Us page.

What tools do I need?

Surprisingly few to start off with, although you may wish to add to your equipment as time goes on. A spade, fork, hoe and rake are the basic tools needed.

Where can I get advice?

There are a multitude of books and online advice available for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Are the allotments secure?

The Site is an open piece of ground and can be easily accessed.  Break-ins to sheds have occured in the past but very rarely.   Occasionally there have been incidents of crop theft but these are are also very infrequent.  However, it is not advisable to keep anything a high value on site, and any items kept on your plot are done so at your own risk.

What is the relationship between the allotment Association and the Council?

The Council is the owner of the land and leases the Site to the Association.

Can we receive deliveries onsite?

Yes for sheds and manure / compost.  When you arrange a delivery you, or someone nominated by you, must be at the allotment site to meet the delivery driver. Please ensure that the vehicle making the delivery does not damage any area of the allotment site. All damage must be rectified by the tenant who ordered the delivery

What can I do with the waste from my plot which can’t be composted?

Bag it up and place in your brown recycling bin at home

Are there any things I shouldn’t plant?

You must not plant or cultivate any crop whose cultivation is against the law.

Can I keep livestock?

See Rules.

Can I have a pond on my plot?

No, the Council does not permit ponds (although tenants with ponds installed prior to 01 April 2006 have been allowed to keep them).

I have seen a rat on my plot, how do I get rid of it?

Unfortunately, as in any town or countryside situation, rats may be a problem. Compost bins provide nesting places and food sources for rats

Traps and bait should be placed in sheltered places, e.g. in a tunnel made of old bricks, so that other animals cannot get to them. Follow label guidance for poison baits and protect the bait from rain.

Can I take my dog with me to the allotments?

Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times when on the site of the Allotment Gardens, and all dog faeces must be removed from the site.

I’ve got a problem with pests on my crops, can I use a spray?

Many plot holders aim to grow organic crops as far as possible and do not use chemicals. However, if it is unavoidable then you should take all reasonable care to ensure that adjoining hedges, trees and crops are not adversely affected, and must make good or replant as necessary should any damage occur. Always use chemicals, whether for spraying, seed dressing or for any other purpose, that will cause the least harm to fellow plot holders, their crops, birds and other wildlife, (other than vermin or pests) and comply at all times with current regulations.

Are there any legal obligations I should know about?

You must at all times observe and comply fully with all enactments, statutory instruments, local, parochial or other bylaws, orders or regulations affecting the allotment site.

Pollution

The tenant of an allotment plot must not contravene the Water Resources Act 1991 or any statutory re-enactment of it.

I saw someone walking about the allotments, making notes. Who is allowed onto the allotment sites?

Council officers may enter and inspect any allotment plot at any time. Only allotment holders (and family or friends who are helping them on their allotment) are allowed on the allotment site. The general public is not permitted to enter the allotment sites.