This Month's Feature is by Bernard Leach, Community Gardener and advocate of all things local and green!

I am involved in a community garden project at Chorlton Good Neighbours (CGN) based in South Manchester and wanted to see what other reporters were talking about in relation to allotments. So I typed “allotments” in the search engine of communityreporter.co.uk web site. Over 192 entries appeared. At first glance there was a lot of entries offering advice on how to grow plants, or put up greenhouses and people talking about their experiences and their knowledge. Some great tips and worth looking to further your knowledge. But there were other things there as well.

  • St Dunstan a primary school in North Manchester tells the story of how parents are creating an allotment on the grounds of the school in order to show pupils where food is grown. Denise talks about the need for this as most pupils have yards and not gardens and have lost their connections with their food sources. Is this something other schools should be doing?
     
  • Some of the content showed the determination of local communities. Ordsall residents in Salford were determined to create an allotment even though the local council would not give them land. They started “guerrilla gardening “i.e. chucking seeds on a piece of land and seeing what grows. This they decided to do on a piece of land called the “dogs toilet” you can imagine what the land looked like. Their challenge was to ensure the plants were not cut down, so after a discussion they came up with a number of ways to ensure this did not happen. What a great example of local community resilience.

It does raise the question about guerrilla gardening and communities using space to change their environment. Is this something that will grow over the next few years?

  • Allotments face other challenges. Ashton Moss allotment in Greater Manchester was under threat and allotment holders came together to explore a strategy of trying to maintain them. Yet another example of communities coming together to preserve something they believe in.

In fact the overriding message of all the content is that allotments provide places for bringing people together, that people are passionate about creating local food, that there is knowledge and expertise about gardening in abundance in communities.

Reporters have produced lots of content on fun days and local events where the allotment has been at the centre. So yes, allotments are educating people about food and in some case changing the urban environment. However, the overall message from reporters is probably best described in the film from Newsome in Huddersfield,

                    “2012 was a lousy year for growing weather, but a great year for growing friendships. 
                    
We shall remember it fondly”.

What has trawling through the postings (not all of them!) told me about community gardens & allotments? A couple of things spring to mind:

  • You can pick up tips from what other people do, but it doesn’t beat getting tips face-to-face from the likes of say Hulme Community Garden Centre
  • Linking up the various projects in some kind of way would make it much more personal and interesting. The online is at its best when it complements meeting up with people

 

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Love the piece. Its becoming more important that food is grown locally and the allotments and small plots is the way to go. Expanding allotments is something all local councils should be supporting. Anyone know where some guerilla gardening is taken place as would love to get involved

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Good to hear about the allotments , we at Whitemoss Youth / Community Centre and Chatterbox have recently secured funding to have built our own allotment built at the rear of the centre. With the help from Your Green Corner< MCC < and Northwards Housing have all made it possible to build with the help of our Un-Paid working teams (Probation Service). Volunteers from Whitemoss and chatterbox have also lent a helping hand to make this project a growing success.(Pardon the Pun) . We are all looking forward for this project to grow from strength to strength.

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