The Telegraph has recently printed several articles and letters about problems with allotments and community growing projects. These included a
complaint about the state of Rivelin Valley Allotments and objections to proposals for a new allotment site at Totley and a community farm at Bole Hill. Yet just one
month ago, Cabinet passed a report setting out how the Council intended to support community growing and allotments. It made four recommendations:
to identify potential sites; to seek sponsorship to employ a dedicated Food Growing Project officer; to support some pilot projects; and to support the
new allotment policies which aim to reduce waiting lists.
On the Allotment Advisory Group’s annual tour of allotment sites, we visited
a project at Grimesthorpe. Green City Action paid for a part time worker and
funds to clear, plough and manure two plots and erect a small polytunnel and
shed. The allotments office waived the rent and contacted all the people on
the waiting list, offering them the opportunity to help cultivate the plots
as part of a supported group. Meanwhile, the new allotments officer
identified uncultivated plots elsewhere on the site so that the newly
trained gardeners could progress to their own plot. Thus one community
project enabled lots of would-be gardeners to start work and lifted the
What lessons can be learned from this success story? Firstly, start small
and let the project expand gradually. Secondly, match capital projects
(acquisition or clearing of sites) with input by experienced gardeners.
Thirdly, support local organisations with a strong track record of community
engagement and practical gardening experience.
Notwithstanding objections to some recent proposals, food growing is popular
and increasingly important in these times of unemployment, health
inequalities and rising prices. Let us not be deterred from expanding food
growing opportunities in Sheffield.
Cllr Jillian Creasy, Chair, Allotments Advisory Group