An ‘Airbnb for gardens’ has been launched to help tackle a shortage of outdoor space to grow fruit and vegetables in cities across the UK.
Created by Conor Gallagher, AllotMe pairs people with available outdoor space with those seeking to rent plots to grow their own produce.
The Glasgow School of Art-trained architect gave up his career to delve into the world of gardening after discovering some areas in the UK have waiting lists of up to 40 years for an allotment.
With more than 80% of people living in cities and one in eight living without any garden space at all, demand for allotments surged during lockdown.
The National Allotment Society reported an uplift of more than 300% in some areas as people look towards growing their own produce to sustain themselves and reduce their carbon footprint.
Conor, 30, said: “Within 30 years, more than 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities – this is an issue that will affect a huge proportion of people, but it’s already a major issue for millions.
“After I moved to London, I saw how people wanted to eat more healthily, ethically, and sustainably but it was increasingly difficult for the majority due to barriers such as a lack of space or excessive cost.
“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 sustainable living but no way of satisfying it.
“As an architect, I’m trained to spot opportunities in space, and it dawned on me 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.”
Conor became the first person on AllotMe to offer up his own garden to a local ‘greenfinger’, which was rented by Corrie Rounding.
She said: “I’ve wanted to find a space to grow my own for so long, but it’s so hard to come by in London. When I found out about AllotMe I jumped at the chance to use it.
“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.
“I can definitely see how this could become something really big. It feels strange to be the first, but I like it.”
There are more than 1000 people on the AllotMe waiting list in London, with others joining across the UK every day.
Hosts from across the UK have already started listing their spaces, from urban gardens in Manchester to allotment plots in Edinburgh.