Allotment News Round-up; waiting lists and new schemes

All over the country communities are fighting for their allotment rights, and it seems to be working.

Data taken from 2011 showed, the average number of people on allotment waiting lists for a county in the UK was around 400 people. The graph below (click on graph to enlarge) lists the 21 counties with the highest number waiting lists, with Sheffield having 2,411 people on its waiting list.

The graph also shows an alarmingly low number of sites for allotments throughout the UK.

However, 2012 has taken a step in the right direction in tackling the growing problem of allotment waiting lists and development. Despite Green Party candidate Jenny Jones not winning the London mayoral election last week, which may have led to the closure of London City Airport to make way for allotment sites or a green industrial park, there has still been encouraging allotments news around the UK.

Vale council are launching their first allotment strategy, with consultations currently taking place till 30th June to ask the community for their opinions on drafting a scheme to lower their waiting list, which currently has 875 people.

While in Northampshire, Kettering Allotments have got two of their waiting lists down to zero and are now taking new local applications.

And in Somerset a charity is pushing for developers to factor in allotment space when building new houses. The charity plan to collaborate with people in the community to tackle the county’s oversubscribed allotment waiting lists.

If you’re interested in getting involved in allotment schemes, check your local council to see if there any forums you can join.

In London, due to the limited space in developing new allotment sites, they have shared allotments that you can register to be part of. To see where your closest allotment is visit the London Allotment website.

By Krystena Petrakas

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Poll: how much do you spend on gardening?

Everybody seems strapped for cash at the moment and it feels like we’re all giving up wild nights out for a bottle of cheap white wine and cosy DVD nights on the sofa. But luckily for us gardening is still affordable – the only pastime where the cost of doing the activity hasn’t risen more quickly than inflation. According to a study by the Halifax bank ten out of 11 activities studied, including going to the gym, watching Premier League football and visiting the cinema rose by over forty per cent in the last decade. In contrast the monthly cost of gardening had risen by just seventeen per cent.

We’re interested to know how much our readers are spending on gardening per month. Tell us by filling out the poll below!

By Natasha Wynarczyk. Photo by psd under a CC licence

Spitalfields City Farm: Behind the Scenes

Here at East End Gardener, we’re big fans of Spitalfields City Farm – they’ve been putting on the truly excellent Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race and they’re home to more animals than you can shake a stick at (and you can pet them, too).

To learn more about one of London’s best community farms, I interviewed Mhairi Weir, its manager. In this audio slideshow, she talks about the history of the farm, her job, and even her favourite animal.

Here’s some exclusive news courtesy of Mhairi: the farm’s just gotten funding for a community garden and they’ll be looking for volunteers in the next four weeks. Get in touch and you could be helping out on east London’s latest cooperative, growing everything from veggies to fruit.

To get involved with the farm, you can sign up here.

By Zing Tsjeng

VIDEO I The world of beekeeping

Eastend Gardener delves further into the beekeeping world and meets Alessia Bolis, expert beekeeper who runs courses at Hackney City Farm.

We also attend one of the classes to see what the course is all about and find out some top bee facts from people who attended the course.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the class email Alessia at beecome[at]hotmail.com. The next Introduction to Beekeeping course starts on 9th May and runs every Wednesday till 4th July at 7pm at Hackney City Farm. The fee is £110 per person and concessions are available for residents of Hackney on benefits and people involved in full time study. To find out more information visit the Hackney City Farm website.

By Krystena Petrakas

Urban herb garden inspiration

Via Janaina Vaughn on Pinterest

My love affair with herbs continues. I’ve been trawling Pinterest for quirky ideas for space-saving herb gardens. Turns out you can plant in anything from shoe storage to old tin cans. Click through our slideshow for inspiration…

By Hannah Bass.

Hackney garden swap

Hackney Homes, in partnership with Hackney Council, have come up with an innovative new way to join people up to spruce up gardens in the borough.

If you are unable to look after your garden because of ill-health or other reasons, you can sign up to the scheme by downloading an application form and you’ll be matched up with somebody who wants to help.

If you don’t have a garden but want to start gardening, you can donate your time to help, either by growing fruit and vegetables or flowers and shrubs.

You can also get perks such as free gardening training and references as well as being able to take home some of what you’ve grown.

Have any of our readers taken part in the garden swap? We’d love to know and hear about your experiences – you could even do a guest post for us! Comment below or tweet us @eastendgardener.

By Natasha Wynarczyk. Photo by Anthony Lui under a CC licence

All the allotments, farms and community gardens in east London – now mapped!

If you’ve grown out of your windowsill herb garden and you’re keen to get your hands dirty in a big allotment, check out this map. We’ve collated all the community gardens, urban farms and allotments in and around our neck of the woods. We’ve also made sure that each of these places either run gardening workshops or are happy to accept gardening volunteers. Some, like Hackney City Farm, even have special ones for kids – have a look.

It’s not definitive, by any means – email us to let us know if we’ve missed anything out. For your visual reference, the green markers indicate allotments, red for farms and blue for gardens. All information about allotments was obtained from Hackney Council.

By Zing Tsjeng