National Trust Allotment anyone?

Well the news this weekend is that the great and the good are being asked to turn over some ‘spare’ land to help families grow fruit and veg. Tim Smit, founder of the Eden project, has thrown his support behind the scheme which has a twofold focus of improving health and cutting carbon emissions from food imports.

Forgive me if I sound just a bit jaundiced about this. The National Trust is ‘donating’ 1,000 plots of its own land. 1,000 plots. Right.

We’ve got over 300 plots on our allotment site alone. Our waiting list is about four years long, even with us dividing standard plots in two. 1,000 plots. That’s not even a drop in the ocean – it’s paltry. Nice word, paltry. I should use it more often.

Those nice folks at British Waterways, who manage the UK canal network, are also giving some land (funnily enough they are also giving allotment land to the 2012 allotment creation initiative being run by London Mayor, Boris Johnson, hope it’s not the same plots being counted twice) and even turning some barges into floating gardens apparently, and Tesco, B&Q and Suttons are giving free plants and seeds.

But back to the National Trust – it’s created plots at 40 of its sites, which will become available over the next three years via the campaign’s website, Eat Seasonably

Now I've got the hang of this - 40 plots over three years is 13 plots a year, so we should have all 1,000 by ...2085. Hurrah!

The website will also have “veg doctors” drawn from the 390,000 members of the Royal Horticultural Society and Garden Organic who will give advice to the plot holders: that should be fun, giving 39 experts per NT plot – nobody should be short of advice then, even if they’re a bit short of places to put it into action. And for folk unable to obtain proper allotments (ie most of the population) those experts will be able to help you turn window sills, terraces or urns into vegetable patches. Urns. Sounds like we’re expected to invade the local funeral director’s office and fill his memorial pots with sunflower seeds.

In other news, our kale is off to a roaring start and it is just possible I got out of bed in a bad mood this morning – normal sunny service will be resumed as soon as I’ve had some toast and honey.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, March 31, 2009

5 Comments:

Anonymous ruth_dt said...

Where did you get that random 2085 date from? All 1000 plots are being created at 40 sites in the next three years. Are you mixing up sites with plots?

Also, they're being registered through Landshare, not Eat Seasonably.

And furthermore, 1000 plots is 1000 more than The Trust are obliged to provide. I'm willing to bet that it's also 1000 more than your local council has introduced in the last five years. Your ire would be better directed at your council, who are obliged to provide them, but don't.

April 1, 2009 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Well, perhaps that's why I get rubbed up the wrong way by the NT. While it certainly AIMs to have 1000 plots by 2012, it actually currently HAS only 40 scheduled for release. And the Trust has 623000 acres (970 square miles) of land under its control - somewhat more than my local council which is, in fact, creating several hundred new allotments on deeply contested city land.

Forgive me, Ruth, but 1000 allotments is still paltry, it's one a square mile.

April 3, 2009 at 5:04 AM  
Anonymous Simon Kirby said...

I think the value of the NT gesture is that it promotes the idea of allotment creation, and that's to be welcomed because I'd agree that mostly it should fall to local councils to provide allotments, and mostly they're just sitting on their hands. However, I think your point deserves a closer look because if the NT really is sitting on acres and acres of land that is reasonably accessable to people then I think they should indeed be doing more. But personally I'd not be in any rush to get a NT allotment if they're going to charge me £5 a time to park my car on site, nor let me take my dogs with me.

April 3, 2009 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous homegrownuk said...

There is a national garden share scheme that is actually trying to put garden owners and potential gardeners together. Unlike landshare which seems to be doing nothing apart from collecting names of people with spare land. Visit www.homegrownuk.org to see an initiative that's trying to make a real difference with garden sharing and community gardening co operatives.

April 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

I thought it was going to be 1000 places where plots would be created but I'm starting to think you might be on the right path.

Still it is true that at least there are going to be more plots. It might also give people a chance to try out allotmenting. Our site has a constant strem of new people who then last 3 months before abandoning the plot of weeds for the rest of the year.

April 3, 2009 at 10:58 PM  

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