THE coronavirus lockdown has sparked a surge of interest in growing fruit and vegetables.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said it had seen a spike in visits to its online advice pages on how to grow your own vegetables, fruit and edible plants.

And stockists have also seen a boost in sales of vegetable seeds, seed potatoes and herbs, as well as other plants and gardening equipment.

Dursley garden centre Leaf and Ground reported a big demand for its new allotments.

The centre released 30 new plots to residents at its site off Dursley Road two weeks ago and they were snapped up in just two days.

The gardeners took over their new plots last Tuesday. Franki Emerton, 25, was one of those lucky enough to get one.

She said: “Leaf and Ground put up a Facebook post and I replied instantly. An hour later all the allotments had gone.

"I was incredibly lucky to get one.”

Leaf and Ground owner David Fisk said: “We had a massive response, and pretty much everyone started tending their plots straight away.

"At the moment tending an allotment is seen as another form of exercise, which is probably one reason for the interest.

"And the idea of growing your own food is continually popular.

"Plus this site has beautiful views from the allotments, and is also close to our garden shop where you can get seeds, seedlings, tools and equipment.”

Franki has been getting help from her parents, Chris and Gretel, in setting up her allotment.

She said: “Being in lockdown probably was a factor in my interest, mainly because I’ve had more time to focus on what I want outside of my social life.

“My work has been incredibly busy though, I’ve actually become even busier through lockdown.

“So work has been a driver for it too since my desk is in my home, and I needed to get away.

“It’s wonderful down there.

"Everyone is doing their own style which is really lovely to see.

"There’s a really big age range: there’s a couple who come with their baby, and I know there are a few retired couples too.

“It’s really lovely and I think it’ll be a great little community.

"I’m hoping for a few things from my allotment: crops of vegetables, newfound passion and new friends.”

The allotments in front of Vale Hospital in Dursley have also seen a rise in interest during lockdown.

Managed by Down to Earth, the site has 60 raised bed allotments, all in use, and it has a waiting list of four.

Amanda Godber of Down to Earth said: "We have found an increase in demand, with people getting in touch in the first week of lockdown.

"However, we also have some people not making full use of their allotment for the same reason. "I think people are wanting allotments and are gardening more because of the spectre of food shortages, needing exercise and to be outside, something to do especially with the children.

"And we've had good weather throughout - this makes a huge difference, if it had rained all the way through then we wouldn't have had as many enquiries I don't think.

Down to Earth also runs a community seed bank and they grow and save organic herb, veg and flower seeds which they give away in exchange for a donation.

She said: "When the lockdown started we were inundated with requests for seeds, as were the online seed suppliers. Seeds of all kinds were hard to get hold of."

Dursley Town Council currently has a small waiting list for the allotment site located at the rear of Kinghsill Cemetery.

A council spokesman said that they were looking into providing an alternative allotment site in the town too.

He said: "We have identified two suitable sites within the town, but neither are owned by the council. We have made initial enquiries but at the current time there is nothing agreed. If the right area of land became available then the council would be interested in providing an alternate allotment site."

Cam Parish Council has 89 allotments across five sites.

Council chair Christina Carter said: "Allotments are very popular in Cam and since lockdown the council has observed that the majority look better than ever and are beautifully tended.

Most are occupied but for those keen to become an allotment holder there is not usually a long wait.

Cam Parish Council looks after a large number of allotments on five sites throughout the village so there is often a good chance of one coming free.

"We have seen a bigger demand during the crisis and there could be good reasons for this.

"Health and well-being is something that has come to the fore during this unprecedentedly difficult time and many of us have started to look at living closer with the earth.

"There has been a wide spread recognition of the therapeutic nature of growing vegetables and the satisfaction it can bring."