THIS ‘AIRBNB FOR GARDENS’ CONNECTS WOULD-BE GROWERS WITH A PLACE TO GET THEIR HANDS DIRTY
ALLOTME HELPS THOSE WITH GREEN FINGERS BUT NO GARDEN
A North Belfast architect has developed a UK-first digital platform described as ‘Airbnb for gardens’. Now based in London, Conor Gallagher (30) came up with the idea of linking people who want to grow their own food with people who have small plots of unused land. He launched AllotMe, a UK-first digital platform in May 2021, that aims to make finding garden space as simple as renting from Airbnb.
GALLAGHER HOPES THAT ALLOTME WILL BOOST PEOPLE’S MOODS AND MENTAL HEALTH
The National Allotment Society reports that in the UK alone, applicants for garden allotments have increased by more than 300% in some areas, extending some waiting lists to over 150 years.
Architect Conor Gallagher has come up with a solution for those who would otherwise be waiting indefinitely to sow their seeds. He launched AllotMe last May — a digital platform much like Airbnb that allows people who have access to unused green space to rent it out to willing growers looking for land.
Gallagher told Optimist Daily, “I was aware of so many people with no garden or access to outdoor space, and of the difficulty verging on the impossibility of obtaining an allotment through traditional routes. It became apparent there is a huge desire for a sustainable living but no way of satisfying it.”
Being an architect, he is skilled in spotting opportunities in space. As he passed overgrown and unattended gardens, he realised that there was an “untapped reservoir of outdoor space in London that is going unused.”
Gallagher decided to list his own backyard as the first available for rent on AllotMe. It was picked up by Corrie Rounding, the first “greenfinger” to use the platform. She says “I’ve wanted to find a space to grow my own for so long, but it’s so hard to come by in London… the chance to grow my own is brilliant, but it’s also so therapeutic. I love how calming it is to work in outdoor space.”
Gallagher hopes that AllotMe will boost people’s moods and mental health in a mentally taxing time. He also hopes that making spaces available to those that wouldn’t have one otherwise will help close the urban-agriculture gap and foster stronger connections within the community and to food.
The going rate for a plot is between £15 and £30 a month, depending on size. Part of this fee goes to AllotMe, which provides a “garden guarantee” for those renting yards. Despite its recent launch, there are already over 1,000 people on the AllotMe waiting list in London, however, people are signing up from across the UK.
Currently, there is more demand than there are plots, but Gallagher hopes that this will soon shift as people become aware of the platform.
GALLAGHER HOPES ALLOTME WILL BOOST PEOPLE’S WELLBEING WHILE STRENGTHENING COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS
As an architect, Gallagher is trained to spot opportunities in space, and it dawned on him when passing an overgrown and unloved garden that there is an untapped reservoir of outdoor space in London that is going unused, so why not bring the two together? AllotMe was born.
The first plot listed on the platform was Gallagher’s own back yard, echoing Airbnb’s founders, who were the first people to post their homes on the site.
Gallagher himself is a recent convert to gardening, report Positive News. He plunged his hands into the soil for the first time a couple of years ago, discovering the mental health benefits of growing his own. He hopes AllotMe will help boost other people’s wellbeing in much the same way, while also strengthening relationships in communities. (AllotMe launched in Mental Health Awareness Week).
People are signing up all over the UK, says Gallagher, though he admits that demand for plots is currently outstripping supply. This is something he hopes will shift as more people become aware of the platform, and the desire for sustainable living catches on further.
“Sustainability is a big part of it,” he says. “Hosts, for a wide variety of reasons may not be able to use their outdoor space, but by letting somebody rent it and use it to grow food, they are enabling a contribution to a greener society and playing a part too.”
Original article from BrightVibes.