Gender Challenges, Women's Experiences of Allotment Gardening

Institute of Development Studies

Benefits and gendered challenges associated with women’s experiences in allotment gardening; A case study of Brighton and Hove

The report recognises the invaluable contribution of women allotment holders in Brighton and Hove. The women who took part shared their experiences in allotment gardening through in-depth interviews.

It summarises the findings of an MA dissertation undertaken in summer 2021 by Teresiah Wambui Warui of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex under the supervision of Dr Inka Barnett. Brighton and Hove Allotments Federation (BHAF) supported the study by providing access to their extensive network of allotment holders for the survey and interviews. Teresiah and BHAF would like to thank all those plot holders who kindly agreed to take part in the online survey and in the personal interviews.

The pdf of the report can be downloaded using the link below.

Women have demanding jobs. To be able to come to the allotments and just breathe, hear the bird songs, not having a manager who is breathing on your neck, you got work deadline to meet, work crisis to resolve, just to be […] at the allotments to grow stuff […] it’s something about the release and freedom certainly for middle-aged women

This study shows that allotment gardening impacts on women’s wellbeing not only through its physical, mental health, leisure and social benefits but also through empowerment. This is in terms of control of the allotment, challenging the ‘status quo’ of gardening, subversion of gender roles and reproducing the practices of gardening. However, gendered challenges like time autonomy and safety, limit how women are able to engage with allotments for their wellbeing.

It is something that you are in control of. It is something important for working women. If you are working in NHS, you certainly have no control. If you are a teacher, you have no control. Very few people have control but in allotments, it is your piece of land, you are in control of it, you design it, you work it and make it happen. That is empowering, inspiring and energising. Why wouldn’t  you want to do that? No one will mark you out of ten at the end of the day. It’s a win-win


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