Can an allotment cut the cost of fruit & veg?

It may be creeping into winter, but many green-fingered gardeners are still at work planting for the months ahead. Unfortunately I’m not one of these people, but every year my very trusting friends leave their allotment plot in my hands when they go away.

As a keen but somewhat clueless vegetable grower (Monty Don would not be proud), I love the two-week stint. It gives me a chance to not only get some fresh air and outside space (our tiny one-bed flat has no garden), but to pick some delicious food straight from the ground.

There’s no end to the goods on sight and most don’t look like anything you’d find in a supermarket – the colours are far more vibrant and attractive and there are always a few fun oddly-shaped alien-looking ones.

Some of the produce I picked in my friends’ allotment

How much can you save?

While I’m no expert – and I’d love your views on this – growing your own fruit and veg seems to be a lucrative way to save big money. Buying fresh, organic food from a supermarket is expensive, and even then it doesn’t compare to the taste of the vegetables and fruit I picked on my friends’ allotment plot.

In the table below, I’ve compared what I picked on one trip in September to the cost at the cheapest supermarket (calculated via on 27 October with organic produce).

If you were lucky enough to pick a similar amount every week you could potentially save almost £4,000 in yearly shopping costs, although of course you’d have to bear in mind the costs involved in running an allotment plot, the fact there’s likely to be a lot less produce in winter, and there’s no accounting for a hungry squirrel attack.

Produce I picked on the allotment

Cheapest supermarket price (organic)

Marrows x 4


Courgettes x 16


Eating apples x 8


Cherry tomatoes x 4 pots


Beef tomatoes x 20


Green beans x 4 packs


Mint x 3 small bunches


Chives x 2 plants


Sweetcorn x 10


Jacket potatoes x 6


Figs x 8


Total cost:


So how much does running an allotment cost?

If you’re not in a position to use your own garden, it’s likely you’ll need to pay for an allotment –
although you may end up waiting years in some areas for a plot! (Perhaps consider growing something small, such as herbs or lettuce, at your home while you wait.)

Allotment costs vary depending on the location and the size of the land you get; our forum users told us they pay between £9 and £110 per year.

And they point out that you may also have to pay a deposit for a key to access the allotment, for water, and for site insurance.

Plus there’s the cost of seeds, plants, compost and gardening tools, although some of these will be one-off payments and a lot of the tools are available cheaply second-hand.

The verdict – is it worth it?

From these yearly allotment sessions I’ve learnt there’s a lot more involved in growing your own fruit and veg than just paying the annual fee and turning up to a plot full of ready-to-pick goods. It requires time, labour and planning.

But if you’re up for the challenge, the benefit is not only a (hopefully!) MoneySaving one, but there’s the added bonuses of learning and passing this knowledge on to your kids, friends and family. It can also be a great way to relax, meet new people, and achieve something really satisfying, de-stress and produce something amazing at the end of it.

Me, my nephew and a marrow in the allotment

Do you have an allotment or are you thinking of getting one? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, any tips you have, plus recipes for your produce. Please let me know via the comments section below.