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Top Tips For National Allotment Week

17th August 2017

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The National Allotment Society (NSALG) is the leading national organisation upholding the interests and rights of the allotment community across the UK. It is governed by volunteers from our regional bodies in England and Wales (the Regional representatives) and the membership is made up of allotments associations, societies and federations, schools, councils, landlords and individuals. NSALG work with government at national and local levels, other organisations and landlords to provide, promote and preserve allotments for all. Support, guidance and advice is offered to members and those with an interest in allotment gardening.

Each year The National Allotment Society encourage sites to open up their gates in a campaign week and invite the local community to join them for barbecues, plant and produce sales, allotment tours, competitions and exhibitions, coffee mornings and afternoon teas – many of them raising funds to support local charities. Details can be found on the official website – nsalg.org.uk

‘Growing the Movement’ National Allotments Week, 14-20 August 2017

The “Growing the Movement” theme this year is a celebration of all the hard work put in by voluntary association management committees, plot-holder volunteers and councils managing, creating, developing and safeguarding allotment sites. Allotments have a long history of voluntary endeavour – including the National Allotment Society itself, whose roots go back to the early twentieth century. Increasing numbers of voluntary allotment associations have taken on devolved management of their sites in recent years but there are many more who have been quietly getting on with it for decades – managing finances, maintaining and developing sites, monitoring plot cultivation, recruiting and supporting new plot-holders, arranging events and liaising with the allotment authority or landlord.

The National Allotment Society President elect, Phil Gomersall thinks that commitment from the community is key to the future of the movement and that we “Need all our Ps in one basket, people power from plots to help preserve and promote the nation’s allotments.”
The Society also feels that it is important to acknowledge that, despite the pressure on land to build new houses and the effect on allotment services of the reductions in council subsidies, plots are still thriving. Councils are still increasing their allotment provision, mainly via new housing developments and this year we will see the release of land from BT for hundreds of temporary growing sites. The creation of 14 new garden villages and three new garden towns will include green spaces and natural environments for local communities and the society is presently contacting developers to accentuate the need to include allotments in this green infrastructure. The master plan for Taunton Deane, one of the garden towns, includes a multi-purpose ‘green necklace’ around the development with allotments, recreation areas and wildlife habitat and the NAS is represented on the group that will work towards the new Taunton Garden town plan.

Contemporary allotments do more than provide food, the healthy lifestyle they encourage helps to combat several of the challenges facing 21 century populations – obesity, inactivity and mental health problems resulting from social isolation. Allotments also make a significant contribution to supporting wildlife in urban areas. They form some of the best habitat mosaics and wildlife corridors, often linking up with parks, tracks, hedgerows, churchyards and rivers.

Getting an allotment can take time as waiting lists are long, but in the first instance you should contact your local authority – this will be your Parish, Town, Borough, City or District Council. Other allotment sites are provided by private landlords, including organisations like the Church of England. Hunt out your local allotment society and ask them if they know of any available plots or who manages the land which they use if it’s not owned by the local authority. If you have no luck with them and established private landlords, then your next step might have to be a sideways one – look around your neighbourhood and see if you can spot any vacant land which would make a good allotment. Find out who owns the land and ask away, it might just be possible that you can use it for growing on.

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