Allotment Finances – Costs and Value

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Over the last 18 months we’ve setup three allotments from scratch. Each time our impatience has exceeded our normal frugality, so we’ve invested heavily to maximise value and fun. In this video I take you through our approach and then do a quick overview of where all the money’s gone on each of the plots.

We’ve spent a lot of money too! When I started my plot I decided to forgo holidays for the year – the allotment was my holiday – and invest in having a really fun first year on the plot. Instead of spending my time battling weeds and mud, I did my best to eliminate both and it worked pretty well, although I could have done better if I’d had longer. When we did Debbie’s plot we did a better job, on Jennie’s plot not quite as good a job – we are fixing that this winter.

When it comes down to tracking costs and value I’ve taken a pretty simple and very cautious approach. I track spending very accurately, but I track value just by counting the number of cropping boxes and assuming a standard value of £2 per box, which is way less than the supermarket value for organic produce. As a result the figures I use in the video – off the top of my head –
are too cautious. However the basic message is clear, even with a huge investment of nearly £2,000, we are still running a very healthy surplus of more than £2,000 by the end of this year. Next year the value of the harvest will be more like £4-6,000 and our costs will fall off a cliff, to just a few hundred.

A few hundred pounds still sounds like a lot, but that’s because we are making a big investment in fruit trees and bushes next year and we continue to invest to drive down our routine non-productive workload (cutting grass, weeding etc).

There are lots of ways that we could have reduced costs and been more consistent with our normal frugal lifestyle, but actually we’ve been quite consistent with our principles. Our day-to-day lifestyle is very frugal, we try to live a simple life rich in daily experiences, but light on expensive ones and with as little waste as possible.

That said we are happy to invest now to reap rewards later, for example in solar panels, trees, cold-frames, freezers and other quality white goods. I’m also particularly focused on investing to reduce my non-productive workload, especially routine daily tasks, to leave my time free to maximise enjoyment. I really dislike jobs that have to be done each day/week (cutting grass, weeding), but I’m happy to work hard on jobs that can be scheduled more flexibly, projects, turning compost.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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