“Can I sell vegetables I’ve grown on my allotment?”
The answer is yes. Or possibly no. Perhaps the best answer is “it depends.” Whether you are allowed to sell fruit, vegetables or flowers you’ve grown on your allotment depends on a number of factors, including your tenancy agreement, where you’re selling, and what you’re selling. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Your Tenancy Agreement
It’s possible that your tenancy agreement forbids the selling of produce from your allotment. Some councils have strict rules. However it’s more likely that your tenancy agreement will simply prohibit selling on or at your allotment: by law that is a strict no-no. The Allotments Act of 1922 forbids any trade or business being conducted anywhere on the allotment plots. An exception to this rule is seen on some sites that have their own allotment shop, which sells gardening sundries and raises money for the site allotment association. Councils, on the whole, sensibly seem to regard this as a fund-raising venture rather than a business.
(In 1998 a government select committee looking at the future of allotments did recommend that decisions about trading on allotment sites should be made on a site-to-site basis while taking care to maintain the character of the site but as yet none of their recommendations have been made law.)
Where and What You’re Selling
“So if I take my produce away from the allotment site I can sell it?”
Possibly. As long as it’s ‘surplus’ produce. According to the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners there is no reason why an allotment holder may not sell surplus produce, a view with which Paul Clayden, one of the UK specialists in allotment law, would concur.
You’re not allowed to run your allotment as a business but you are allowed to sell any surplus you produce. Many pensioners top up their pension by selling vegetables and flowers they’ve grown, and that are excess to their requirements.
The rule specifying it must be surplus is to prevent commercial growers using low-rent allotment sites simply as money-making ventures, thus depriving genuine allotmenteers of sites.
Where to Sell
Family will probably expect to be given produce for free, but friends and neighbours may be willing to buy. If you have surplus of a seasonal crop that’s a bit different, your local bistro or restaurant might be interested.
If you find you have a large surplus you may want to look at becoming a stall-holder at a country market (previously Women’s Institute Market). The original WI market opened in Sussex just after the end of the First World War. Its aim was to encourage the production of more food on allotments and to provide a supplementary income for villagers.
Many towns and villages will have a weekly country market. To take a stall you need to become a shareholder at the great cost of 5p! Male and female stall-holders over the age of 16 are welcome. You will be expected to contribute a small commission, usually 10%, on your sales, towards the cost of running the market.
Consider getting together with other allotment holders to sell your surplus produce, either to raise money for yourselves or the allotment association – or maybe a charity close to your heart.
An allotment isn’t and was never meant to be a for-profit venture. The very ethos of allotmenteering is one of generosity, of giving, sharing and swapping. Although there is much to be said for making an allotment site work hard and be as productive as possible, it’s also about pleasure and enjoyment, and about knowing the food you’re feeding your family is fresh and unadulterated.