Monday, May 12

Back to the future?

Back in 2003 our allotment site was a mess.
The allotment bug hadn't bitten and infected the country. People who kept allotments were seen as weird and to be honest it wasn't something you brought up in conversation. Fruit and vegetables came from supermarkets, were clean and of regimental shape and size.

Our site was in danger of being lost and our plot was surrounded by a sea (rough high sea at that) of weeds.
We spent as much time keeping the weeds back from encroaching on our plot as we did gardening. When we were gardening we were hidden from view - no-one would have known we were there. Existing plot holders took on extra plots to try and safeguard the site's future. The council positively encouraged this and would have been delighted if someone had decided to take on all the vacant plots.

Around 2007 interest in allotments began to grow and some plot holders decided to publicise the fact that there were vacant plots on the site. They popped posters in local shop windows and dropped leaflets through doors. This had a positive affect and gradually more plots were taken. It was still a work in progress but we were getting there.
As allotment popularity grew our site developed a waiting list and soon all the plots were taken and the site was thriving. The site secretary managed the waiting list and vacant plots were allocated promptly. If a plot became too overgrown a few plot holders who owned strimmers strimmed down the weeds.
Recently for various reasons several plot holders have decided to quit allotmenting and so several plots have become vacant. Now the council manages the waiting list (if there is one) and for some reason the plots have been standing idle for a while. I know our plot neighbour gave up their plot in February. They had kept their plot in pristine condition and we commented that anyone being allocated this plot would have really fallen on their feet. The photo below was taken last year.
However, this plot as well as several others is still waiting for a new tenant.
Ours plots once again are surrounded - this time on three sides by plots that are full of nothing but weeds.
Time is running out for new tenants to make full use of these plots during this growing season.

I don't know why these plots are not allocated and just hope it isn't the case that we are going backwards as we head into the future.

32 comments:

  1. We have the same problem with ours, although half of our plot is still a jungle (we've only had it for 6 months), but a couple of our neighbours do nothing to their plots. I can only assume they still pay their rent, but do no work. The weeds are overpowering, and on their annual grass cut their wait until the weeds have seeded and then spread them all over their neighbours hard worked land. I don't understand why the council do nothing about it? There is a 5 year waiting list here for an allotment, it should be put to good use and not left to ruin :(

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    1. Hi Sarah and welcome, I don't think councils put allotments very high on their list of priorities. I'm afraid, Just something they have to do. Our rents are higher than many areas too.

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  2. It is amazing just how quickly natures encroaches once a garden is left alone - if only for a short time. My old plot is unrecognizable now and it breaks my heart. It makes your job even harder now to keep your plot pristine - and what a waste, all the time and effort the plotholders put in just going to waste. Councils really ought to get their act together. The before and after pictures show just what can be done with a bit of enthusiasm and concern for the site.

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    1. Our ex-plot neighbours would probably feel the same if they had seen it in this state, Elaine.

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  3. It's such a shame that plots are allowed to overgrow before being allocated new tenants. I think it must be down to the council who are slow to get things moving as we've still got a long waiting list on our site and we were given our new plot before the old tenants had even moved their things out of the shed. Perhaps you could enquire if there's a waiting list and if so, why plots aren't being allocated.

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    1. That sounds like a good system, Jo - you can negotiate buying sheds and greenhouses then can't you?

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    2. There is a roadshow on Wednesday Jo and I have a list of questions to ask

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  4. Oh that's so sad, surely there is still a need for allotments, have you been on the council website to see if the plots are listed as vacant.

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    1. Listing vacant plots on their website, Jo, That's too much like a good idea!

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  5. I guess when something becomes fashionable there is lots of interest, but perhaps it has peaked and the reality of work and weeding has dawned on the tenants not working their plots. Inevitable really.

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    1. I don't think the media helps VM. Growing your own is portrayed as being fairly effortless. A sort of plant and pick scenario - suddenly people realise that it is something you have to devote time and effort to. Rents for allotments are fairly high in our area too

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  6. So annoying. Wakefield council need a firework up their bums at times. I bet there are people waiting.

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    1. That's an interesting image, Kerry. Ironically when we went to the plot today one of the plots seems to have been taken. It's the local roadshow on Wednesday wo I have a list of questions for them

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  7. After the initial gut response (disgust) a few thoughts.

    Haven't local councils bought into the idea of growing local, reducing food miles, promoting sustainablity etc. Are there politicians that be shamed into doing something about managing the plots.

    Isn't there a new wave of allotment enthusiasm with the new BBC allotment - You know The Great British Grow/Arrange/Bake Off?

    Grass can be a right monster.

    Do the Council give a discount in the first year? At least once you get to May?

    I know what you mean about not shouting out about being an allotmenteer (thinking back to the 90's)- I'm well beyond caring about that now - and do you know how many secret/aspiring growers there are in offices.

    Hopefully in Wakefield it's a case of cock up rather than conspiracy.

    You do a great job of championing the cause - but it's unfair to expect private individuals to do the job for the Council who have a budget for the purpose of addressing these issues.

    Whatever you do don't get disheartened. You've still got your own produce and you've learnt a few tricks to help along the way!

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    1. New plotters used to have a free year to get things sorted but that no longer is a general rule.It is surprising how many people start an allotment and quickly give up or don't even really get going even after having a plot for a year or more.

      I think nowadays having a plot is far more accepted than it used to be.

      The latest was when we visited today one of out neighbouring plots has been let so maybe the rest will follow. The bills went out this month so maybe that is what the council were waiting for. I guess it makes their job easier.

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  8. It's such a shame to see that immaculate plot so overgrown. It all falls into wrack and ruin so very quickly doesn't it. One of the plots next to mine is looking quite neglected this year, I'm hoping it's cultivated soon. Our site manager is usually quite on the ball, but I've noticed a few very overgrown plots lately. I do hope your neighbouring plots are let soon, it must be so frustrating to see the weeds taking over.

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    1. The one that was really tidy has been taken CJ. When we went yesterday the grass had been strimmed and some beds dug, It was a case of careful what you wish for though as out new neighbour had trampled on our raspberry bed. The newly planted raspberries had been trodden away from he wires, Just hope it hasn't damaged any new emergining shoots

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  9. How heartbreaking to see an immaculate plot fall into disrepair....I do hope these plots are found good owners soon, I must say I'm surprised there are no takers, the lists are endless here. Fingers crossed.xxx

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    1. There probably are takers Snowbird - maybe their are people on a waiting list just waiting for the go ahead.

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  10. As you say, the current situation seems incomprehensible. There must be a hidden agenda - and hopefully it is NOT to claim that there is no demand for allotments, so the land can be sold off for construction of houses. The legal position concerning allotments seems to me to be fraught with problems, and the plot-holders don't seem to have many cards in their hands.
    BTW: I wish I had been able to take over that "immaculately maintained" plot - it looks like just my sort of thing (though I doubt whether I would physically be able to maintain it, due to my health situation.)

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    1. And the bonus, Mark would have been having us as plot neighbours, :)

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  11. Land for gardening is so valuable for me. Actually I can't see bare land looks empty without something 'green'. I hope the new tenants will come soon, and the allotments surround yours will be 'live'.

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  12. I find it strange that some areas have waiting lists for plots but others can't get the interest. My allotment is on a new site ... starting our third year. People keep turning up and renting a plot but after an hour of digging we never see them again! There are two of us from the first year and two from the second but the other six plots are empty. Such a shame. Down the road they have a thriving allotment area and a waiting list .... the extra drive to ours must put them off.

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    1. Went to the Wakefield allotment roadshow, Patricia and apparently our site doesn't have a waiting list any longer!

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  13. That's almost insane that you don't even have a waiting list. When we were looking at buying houses I said I wanted a large garden for obvious reasons, and hubby (a non-gardener) suggested I get an allotment instead. However, that idea soon went out the window when we discovered that the one closest to the houses we were looking had had a NINE YEAR waiting list, and all the others around Edinburgh had a minimum of 2 years anyway. Have to say though, I like being able to nip out from the house and do bits and bobs as needed rather than have to travel to an allotment, but its clear there are a lot of people looking for allotments here. I think it may be because there are so many flats compared to houses with decent sized gardens in Edinburgh, so a lot of people need an allotment for the space.

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    1. I'd love a garden big enough to not need an allotment, Rozzie. There is a waiting list in Wakefield just not for our site. People have to choose one site to go on the waiting list for and our site isn't well known as it isn't amongst lots of houses. I'm sure if people knew we had spare capacity they would switch waiting lists.

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  14. How sad to read this Sue, and I do hope you can soon meet the 'new neighbour' and establish an entente cordial before the idiot tramples on anything else.

    I cannot help but think "like we didn't see this coming ....." because the allotment craze of the last few years was never going to be sustainable. There were far too many idiotic TV programmes making it appear that GYO was simple and easy. Well, it is fairly simple and easy but it involves WORK and that is something that many of today's 'instant gratification' society just cannot seem to sustain.

    Allotments cannot be seen as a profit centre for councils so I am sure they are on the radar for being sold off.

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    1. I agree with everything you have written, Jayne.

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    2. Just to make clear I am agreeing with your assessment of allotments and not our new plot neighbours who are in fact very nice people.

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  15. That's so disheartening, I hope you get some answers soon.

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    1. It seems that we have no-one now on our waiting list, Janet so it could be that some plots remain vacant

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