Any town planners or students out there involved either directly or indirectly in allotment gardening, either now or in their youth?
I have the impression that our friends in the UK take their community gardening more seriously than folks in the US or Canada ever have. Perhaps this is because of the different histories and different levels of land availability; in the UK allotment gardens emerged as a means to feed the newly urban poor in the wake of the various enclosure acts and rapid industrialization, not to mention the crucial survival role they played during two world wars. Here in North America community gardening tends to be viewed more as a fun hobby (albeit a pragmatic one) than something serving an essential need. I suspect, however, that as worldwide demands on fossil fuels increase and the cost of both food production and transportation rises, we will necessarily be taking a more serious look at the benefits that urban agriculture has to offer in the not too distant future.
I understand that many/most allotment gardens in the UK are located on land owned by the town or borough. Where do these gardens tend to be located – are/were they selected based on their proximity to residents? Do they tend to be located on marginal land (e.g. adjacent to railway lines) or are they more centrally located? Also, would anyone happen to know where I might find some demographic information concerning allotment gardeners themselves - are they 99% pensioners or is there any evidence of increasing participation among younger people?