London has an allotment problem.
A new Freedom of Information request carried out by Greenpeace has found at least 30,500 would-be gardeners across the capital are currently on waiting lists for their own space to grow.
Sixteen boroughs are currently closed for applications and even if you were lucky enough to get on a list, there could be more than 3,000 people ahead of you if you had applied in Newham, Richmond, Lewisham or Harrow.
Greenpeace also found you could wait as long as 15 years in Islington, which has only 106 plots available for about 17,000 households with no access to a garden.
The average waiting time was just over five years.
A Sheffield University study found that allotments make us healthier.
They offer a space to connect with nature, which in turn improves mental health, while having access to home-grown fruit and vegetables increases the chance of eating your five-a-day, and improving food security in the cost of living crisis.
Artist, writer and allotment historian JC Niala led a campaign featuring an allotment-sized seed paper banner referencing the number of people on waiting lists in the UK.
She said: “Everyone has the legal right to request an allotment and councils are legally obliged to provide a sufficient number. They quite literally provide a lifeline for some.”
But how can you get your hands on a precious growing space of your own and join the likes of the late Paul O'Grady, the actor Charles Dance, Eighties popstar Kim Wilde, and, of course, Jeremy Corbyn?
Under Section 23 of the Allotment Act, “if a group of six people from different households write to a local council to apply for an allotment, the council are obliged to find you space to grow”.
Of course in central London it is not always possible to find new space for allotments, but many boroughs do have space.
Public golf courses in London, for example, occupy as much land as the entire borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Another route is private allotment associations and companies. One example is Roots Allotments, where a space can be rented from £109 a year for a 12 square metre patch.
The average cost of a traditionally sized council allotment (typically 10 or more times the size) is £90.
The company has a London site in Croydon at Meadow Hill Fields with plots available and promises a “no-dig” allotment experience with no set-up time and no waiting list.
They also supply seeds and tools and take care of your patch when you are away.