A study of allotments and small land plots
: benchmarking for vegetable food crop production

  • Robin Cook

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study seeks to benchmark financial efficiencies for vegetable food crop production and to demonstrate that local vegetable food crop growing is a viable option. The work identifies techniques for communities to increase sustainability on small land plots in Wales [UK]. Initial research shows limited availability of systematic data on harvest quantities and financial returns for small scale growing of vegetable food crops. When interviewed, 37 growers from an initial total of 40 were either reluctant to provide, or had failed to keep, written records of vegetable production, their costs and sales statistics. The information provided by the 37 for comprehensive personal interview questionnaires is mainly derived from memory. Organic registered growers are notionally required to keep precise production and other details by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Analysis of the memorised data showed in most instances that outputs generated were not sufficient to support inputs. This study highlights the difficulties of collecting and collating sufficient accurate data and systematic to establish reliable benchmarks for small agricultural enterprises. Data Envelopment Analysis software initially identifies efficient and inefficient producers from the data collected but a simpler more readily understandable analysis system is now used which identifies changes in input variables needed to gauge efficiency. This study is set against a theoretical examination of global economic events that combine to discourage localisation. The overall aim is to show that in a global production framework there are hidden, deferred and obscured costs that make those processes unsustainable. Study of the produce of smallholdings and allotments in Wales allows some tentative conclusions to be drawn about appropriate benchmarks for local vegetable food crop production. This study is more important however, for the light it sheds on the current quality of data available for analysing small scale agricultural production and the general difficulties of conducting a survey to collect robust data, the analysis of which has policy implications for production, consumption and lifestyle.
    Date of AwardJun 2006
    Original languageEnglish


    • Vegetable gardening

    Cite this