The traditional standard sized allotment is ’10 poles’, or, more accurately, ’10 square poles’.
A ‘pole’, otherwise known as a ‘rod’ or ‘perch’ is an archaic measure, dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period, equivalent to 5½ yards. So, skipping the detail of the arithmetic, a ’10 poler’ equates to 302½ square yards or 252.75 square meters. This was reckoned to be a sufficient area of land to sustain a family of four for a year. It also provides scope for crop rotation.
The pace and pressure of life in the 21st century means that it is mainly the fit and able retired who are able to devote the time and energy needed to maintain a full 10 pole plot so, increasingly, sub-divisions are being made available. Keen green persons of working age and the less fit retired may take up half a plot, or even a quarter, and enjoy the satisfaction of at least supplementing their diets with their home-grown local produce.
So if you find the prospect of maintaining 302½ square yards of land daunting, why not get your name on the list for a smaller area? HDAA plots are made available in nominal measures of 10 pole, 5 pole or 2½ pole pieces. Note that, in the allotment context, absolute precision in measurement is impracticable, hence the use of the term ‘nominal’. Given the very reasonable annual cost, few will quibble!
Current annual rents are as follows:
10 pole plots: £36
5 pole plots: £18
2½ pole plots: £10