29 Mar 2010

Allotments are go!!!!

The Whiteshill and Ruscombe Allotments site at Humphreys End is nearly ready to be launched. We have been working on this in the Parish Allotment Working Group for over two years: meetings and discussions have been taking place with allotment groups, police, planners and more. Now the great news is that the Parish Council have signed a lease with the landowner, Julia Currie.

Photos include allotment site being cleared and meeting with Parish.

Work had already begun on clearing the self seeded trees and brambles from the site. Contractors did lots of work last week but on Saturday 27th March over 12 prospective plot holders spent over 3 hours cutting, digging, chopping and burning brambles. We did remove as much of the wood as possible so most of the stuff being burnt was brambles. No doubt many sore backs but more still to do. We also did look at a shredder but the damp brambles would not be good for very much.

We have also been working a bit against the clock to ensure that no birds nest in the cut down brambles - indeed the landowner has put up extra sparrow nesting boxes in the adjacent orchard. This site has been unused for 16 years so a fair amount of wildlife had built up there amongst the brambles - a Little Owl nested close-by and a fox dashed out when contractors started work. I hope by restoring the hedges and other works we can again make it a place for some of that wildlife.

Anyway a meeting has also been held where the prospective plot holders met the parish council (see left) and were given information on the requirements of them becoming plot holders. This list was based on many other allotments but understandably a lot of time went into preparing it to match this particular site. One key provision is that the site will be organic - so again good for the wildlife. There is also a provision not to have sheds or ponds.

An inaugural meeting of the Allotments Association is planned this week where the officers of the Association and related matters will be decided. It is hoped that in a couple of months we might be able to officially start digging our plots. That will be a bit late for this year but still a chance to get some stuff in the ground - certainly I'll be looking at some sprouting broccoli and kale.

This is a really exciting time! There have been times when I thought this project wouldn't happen but everyone has persevered - it has been a long haul but it will be worth it!

We celebrated the first time on the allotments on the Saturday with local apple juice and fruit wine from Randwicks' very own "Field Bar Wines" - one bottled donated by them to get us going. I was impressed with the wines - for example the Strawberry was wonderfully dry and crisp and full of the taste of summer!

Field Bar Wine produce their wines in a micro-winery in Randwick and source their produce from local hedgerows and suppliers. See more about them here - or at the Farmers Market second and fourth Saturdays.

Photos: starting the fire and the youngest 'worker' on the allotments!

Another reason for this being such an exciting project is that it is one of the first allotment sites in the District to be developed on private land. I am hoping it can perhaps be a model for other groups to follow? Certainly the demand for allotments is growing fast as this blog has noted before.

Anyway it is hoped that the nearly 20 people on the allotment waiting list will all be offered half size plots. There are, no doubt others, who would also like allotments. If so, please do put your names down with the Parish Clerk. It would be great to also have a site somewhere in Randwick: there needs to be a request from at least 6 residents requesting allotments for them to act. And what about another site in Whiteshill and Ruscombe? Click on 'Allotments' label below for previous blogs about allotments.

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