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
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
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
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
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
Hackney-based gardener Lucy Conochie runs her own business, Peachy Gardening services. In this post Lucy tells us her story and offers some buds of wisdom for fellow inner-city gardeners.
I started out with a fork, spade and some secateurs offering my gardening services to friends and built up the business from there. I set up in 2006, working on both my art and gardening part-time, and the company has sustained itself.
Most of Lucy’s clients have terrace house gardens
Being based in east London, most clients have terrace house back gardens all of a similar size. My advice to people with a small space is, don’t try and have everything in a small garden. It’s much better to choose a plant that you would like to see repeated then try and have one of everything in your garden. Also, always plant things in odd numbers because odd numbers are organic. Planting in threes and fives is the general rule of thumb.
Miranda used compost and a Hackney garden waste bag to make a mini pop up garden
As a group of neighbours in Hackney, we have got together to create an explosion of pop up gardens to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show.
These gardens will go on show in 17 days. This is a community collaboration inspired by ‘The Chelsea Fringe Festival’ which we are part of.
After registering our project with them we set about getting our hands on, quite literally, tons of free compost and have gained permission from the council. This project has continued to grow and is open to anyone who wants to get involved.
We share advice and ideas and there is a real buzz about our project, which is currently at least 25 sites strong. These sites range from tree pits to container gardens, made in either recycling sacks or builders’ sand bags, either within housing estates or on streets.
You don’t need to be an experienced gardener to get involved, just either know a street that could do with some floral cheer or want to help somebody else with there idea; any kind of help is welcome. We will supply all the advice you need; all we ask for is some enthusiasm.
We’re still looking to get more people involved, so please contact us at dbg.chelseafringe[at]gmail.com and visit our website dbgchelseafringe.wordpress.com
Guest blog post by Miranda Janatka. Uploaded by Krystena Petrakas. Photo by dbgchelseafringe under a CC licence.