After winning the social impact category of our 2018 Big Idea Challenge, Conor Gallagher, a London Met Examination in Professional Practice in Architecture (RIBA3) graduate founded AllotMe.
Conor recently unveiled ‘Hazel’ an AI-powered garden advice guru which he hopes will help attract younger generations to grow their own fruit and vegetables. AllotMe’s pioneering ‘Hazel’ service can answer any question greenfingers pose on gardening and growing fruit and vegetables, and has been designed to make advice more accessible for gardeners and growers of all abilities.
AllotMe was officially launched in 2021 in response to rising demand for growing space in the face of diminishing availability in urban environments – particularly in London – where some areas have waiting lists of up to 40 years for allotments.
It has since flourished with more than 500 plots listed and a community of 5,000 hosts, greenfingers, and enthusiasts registered across the UK.
In 2022, Conor secured more than £250,000 investment – which included £120,000 from venture capital outfit QVentures and £50,000 from the HBAN Angel Network in Northern Ireland.
The recent unveiling of ‘Hazel’ arrives following National Allotments Week, an event designed to raise awareness of allotments and the role they play in assisting people in leading healthier lifestyles, growing their own food, developing friendships, and strengthen communities.
Hosted on the AllotMe website, the tech is powered by generative AI platform Chat GPT, and has been trained using the platform’s extensive bespoke growing guides to channel its focus and ensure responses are as accurate, useful, and practical as possible.
According to research, a lack of knowledge is one of the biggest barriers to growing your own, with visiting a local garden centre the number one method of finding reliable gardening advice, followed by a Google search, and then gardening shows on television.
AllotMe’s Hazel gardening assistant provides a faster, more accessible alternative, and one those behind the platform hope will eventually become the go-to for gardeners of all abilities and experience levels.
Conor Gallagher, founder of AllotMe, says the Hazel launch is the latest phase in the platform’s mission to break down barriers to the nation growing its own and contributing to a more sustainable future.
He said: “The two greatest barriers to more people growing their own are lack of space and insufficient knowledge. We’ve already provided a solution to space with AllotMe, and now it’s time to tackle the knowledge with Hazel.
“If you’re new to gardening, it’s not always possible to get to a garden centre or easy to wade through, compare, and contrast the glut of advice that emerges from a Google search. Hazel has been designed and trained using our growing guides to provide a frictionless solution.
“We also live in an era where almost every service is available at your fingertips, and why shouldn’t gardening be the same? People can ask Hazel what plants will be best suited for the conditions where they live, order seeds from AllotMe’s curated collection, and have them delivered to their door or plot all in one space. It’s a one stop shop.
“We’re here to break barriers to growing for all generations, and a crucial part of that is dragging gardening into the 21st century – innovation like Hazel is an important part of that.”
Gardeners – known on the platform as greenfingers typically – pay £15-30 to rent plots on minimum three month terms. AllotMe is also home to an extensive catalogue of free-to-access growing guides designed to help gardeners of all levels get their plots moving. The growing guides are accessible at allotme.co.uk/growing.
Gallagher’s flair for innovation also included the creation of the AllotMe ‘GrowPod’, the world’s most sustainable hydroponic planter, which featured in the Evening Standard’s list of best new home tech. The GrowPod only requires seed pods, water and natural sunlight and is designed to allow people with limited indoor space to grow vegetables indoors.
To join the AllotMe community for free – and to try Hazel for yourself – visit allotme.co.uk