The waiting lists for allotments around the country are long and local councils struggle to acquire new land to meet demand. Evidence on the value of allotment gardening has come from a recent study by researchers from the Universities of Westminster and Essex which reported significant improvements in self esteem and mood as a result of one allotment session. John Ashton, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, commented on the on the findings and was widely reported in the press.
A case control study of the health and wellbeing benefits of allotment gardening was completed by Carly J Wood, Julie Pretty and Murray Griffin. The aim of their case control study was to determine the impacts of a session of allotment gardening on self-esteem and mood and to compare the mental wellbeing of allotment gardeners with non-gardeners. 136 allotment gardeners were compared with 133 controls on measures of self-esteem, mood and general health. Time spent on the allotment in the current session and previous 7 days and length of allotment tenure were also measured. A number of significant results were reported. The authors concluded that allotment gardening can play a key role in maintaining and promoting mental well-being.
Dr John Ashton has commented: We cannot have good physical health without also looking after our mental wellbeing. The Faculty of Public health would welcome more community allotments and opportunities for people to have access to safe green spaces. Because there are long waiting lists for allotments, we need a strategy that considers how we could make better use of neglected land that marks the transition from towns to cities. Given the cost to individuals and the economy of poor mental health it makes sense from both a public health and economic perspective to prioritise mental wellbeing?