We all know gardening and home-grown veg are good for the soul and excellent for the body. But now, more than ever, allotments have become crucial for retirees’ mental and physical health.
‘This year, every week has been National Allotments Week,’ says Phil Gomersall, president of The National Allotment Society.
‘More people than ever are realising that growing your own food is a great way of eating healthily, getting some outdoor exercise in the fresh air and acquiring new skills. Plot-holders have also benefited from the contact with nature and the easy camaraderie on allotment sites, helping to retain their mental health and stay positive.’
Growing appeal: Allotment at Anchor Hanover’s Bishopstoke Park retirement village in Eastleigh, Hampshire
This sentiment very much applies to home owners at retirement developments which have allotments or communal gardens that can be tended by the residents. At McCarthy & Stone’s Carrick Court development in Drayton, Hampshire, the communal gardens have been a place of solace for Mick Foster, 74, and his wife Sue, 71.
‘If it wasn’t for the gardens, I think I would have really struggled,’ says Mick.
‘The lockdown made my wife and I feel anxious at times, so having somewhere I can go for a couple of hours to clear my head and have my own space has been really important.
‘I like to get out every day in the gardens if I can with my wheelbarrow. I’m always on my hands and knees, digging or giving the hedges a trim. During lockdown it was a chance to be productive and work on the garden fence that needed attention.’ (mccarthyandstone.co.uk)
Pat Hackett, 74, and her partner Stephen Walsh, 62, visit their allotment at their retirement development in Great Alne Park, near Alcester, Warwickshire, three or four times a week. ‘The allotment has helped with my project of getting fit. It has given me exercise with purpose,’ says Stephen.
Therapeutic: Gardening’s good for retirees
They have grown tomatoes, courgettes, beetroot, Swiss chard, lettuce, peppers, onions and flowers. Two-bedroom apartments start at £345,000, three-bedroom cottages from £514,000. ( inspired villages.co.uk)
‘During lockdown it has been lovely to have a reason to be outside — and harvesting our crops has been very satisfying, not to mention how good it all tastes,’ says Celia Cummins, 73, who lives at Anchor Hanover’s Bishopstoke Park retirement village in Eastleigh, Hampshire.
One-bedroom apartments are from £345,000, two-bedroom apartments from £395,000 (anchor hanover.org.uk).
At Cognatum’s new development, Orchard Yard, at Wingham, Kent, there will be allotments, raised beds as well as a greenhouse for residents.
‘The wellbeing benefits of gardening generally are well documented, and to have a reason to safely leave the house every day, to see the crops grow over the warm early summer was really heartening during a time which many people found difficult’, says John Lavin of Cognatum.
At Orchard Yard the 15 homes will cost from £560,000 (orchardyard.co.uk).