Houses halt allotment growth...

Starting from scratch.
Starting from scratch.

There are now dwellings on the land where Alnmouth gardeners once grew vegetables, but allotments giving way to housing development is a sign of the times.

The latest to come under threat, Farm Terrace Allotments, Watford, Herts, was in the news last week.

Established in 1896, the site has always provided a welcoming place for gardeners to meet, socialise and grow.

But the local council has decided that the 30 plot holders should make way for the development of houses, shops and restaurants, a scheme they paradoxically call a health campus.

Naturally the allotment holders are digging their heels in but you cannot help feeling that the ancient right to cultivate land which was so lauded when a previous generation dug for victory is gradually slipping from our grasp.

Whilst understanding the need for gradual change, having majored in this period and aspect of history, I do hope the Farm Terrace group continue gardening even if it means relocating.

Under the pre 1066 manorial system, lords had areas of woodland cleared enabling their serfs and peasants to cultivate food crops.

By the late medieval period land was allotted to tenant dwellings but the real change came with the 1845 Enclosure Act confirming cultivation fields for the poor.

Our present allotment system had arrived.

The present situation nationwide is that the majority of allotment societies have long waiting lists, and it’s not unusual for a whole plot to be halved and shared where appropriate.

The local authority is duty-bound under the Smallholdings and Allotments Act of 1908 to provide space where the demand exists, or in the case of Farm Terrace Allotments, offer an alternative site to facilitate the move. Herein lies the problem.