Find out your local events: August 14-20
It’s National Allotments Week and this year the theme is Growing the Movement, paying tribute to the hard work done by all those people who give up their time for free.
Voluntary association management committees, plot-holder volunteers, and councils managing, creating, developing and safeguarding sites all get well-deserved recognition.
Allotments and volunteers go hand in hand, especially now, as increasing numbers of voluntary allotment associations have taken on the devolved management of their sites, mainly due to cuts in council budgets.
However, some sites have been managing themselves for decades and it’s basically running a fully fledged business unpaid – managing finances, maintaining and developing sites, monitoring plot cultivation, recruiting and supporting new plot-holders, arranging events and liaising with the allotment authority or landlord.
The National Allotment Society (NAS) aims to protect, promote and preserve allotments and every level of society has a role to play:
- Allotment associations: Protect your site, register as a community asset.
- Allotment federations: Keep allotments in the public eye. Make sure they are mentioned in the Local Plan and lobby councillors and MPs.
- Councils: Preserve and value your allotment service – it has the potential to deliver public health targets.
- Plot holders: Join the NAS and support your regional allotment network.
- Aspiring plot holders: Don’t be put off by a long wait – sign up now. Without waiting lists, allotment authorities can’t assess demand.
Community commitment is key
The NAS president-elect, Phil Gomersall thinks community commitment is key to the future of the movement.
He said: “We need all our P’s in one basket, People Power from Plots to help Preserve and Promote the nations’ allotments.”
Despite the pressure on land to build new houses and the effect on allotment services of council cuts, allotments are still thriving, NAS claims.
Councils are increasing their allotment provision, mainly via new housing developments and this year BT is releasing land for hundreds of temporary growing sites.
New garden towns and villages
The creation of 14 new garden villages* and 3 new garden towns** will include green spaces and natural environments for communities and NAS is encouraging developers to include allotments in the infrastructure.
Taunton Deane, one of the garden towns, includes plans for a multi-purpose “green necklace” around the development with allotments, recreation areas and wildlife habitat and the NAS is represented on the group that will work towards the new Town Plan.
To mark the week, allotment groups will be opening their gates and holding barbecues, plant and produce sales, allotment tours, competitions and exhibitions, coffee mornings and afternoon teas, many raising funds for charities.
To find out about local events, visit www.nsalg.org.uk/news-events-campaigns/national-allotments-week/.
*The 14 new garden villages will be in Long Marston, Stratford-upon-Avon; Oxfordshire Cotswolds, West Oxfordshire; Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire; Culm, Devon; Welborne, Hampshire; West Carclaze, Cornwall; Dunton Hills, Essex; Spitalgate Heath, Lincolnshire; Halsnead, Merseyside; Longcross, Surrey; Bailrigg, Lancaster; Infinity Garden Village, Derbyshire; St Cuthbert’s, Cumbria; Handforth, Cheshire.
**The three new garden towns will be in Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury area); Somerset (Taunton Deane); Essex-Hertfordshire border (Harlow/Gilston).