Friday, 26 November 2010 12:47

Get Matlock Growing – Allotments for All Campaign

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Together with other community groups, individuals and the Matlock Mercury newspaper, Transition Matlock is working hard to create new spaces for growing food, so that as many local people as possible have the opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of growing their own fruit and veg. As part of this, we are trying to help address the huge waiting lists for allotments. That includes asking our local councils to help sow the seeds of change, and to do everything they can to provide the community with extra, much-needed allotments.

 

 

Recent developments

There have been some positive developments during Autumn 2010.

  • We have had discussions with Derbyshire County Council about potential allotment sites. One of these looks very promising, and we have prepared a plan for the site.

  • A letter from six local people (all Transition Matlock members) was sent to Matlock Town Council on 1st November 2010, asking for allotment space under the Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908. Under this legislation, according to the National Society of Leisure & Allotment Gardeners (www.nsalg.org.uk): "Where six or more Parliamentary electors make written representations to the appropriate Municipal authority that allotments are wanted in that area, the said Council is then obliged to become pro-active in seeking land for allotments. It is not enough for a Municipal authority merely to ‘consider’ provision. There must be action on the part of the authority which evidences active seeking of land for provision and letting." If the town council cannot provide a site, responsibility passes to the district then county councils.

  • Matlock Town Council has replied to the individuals that wrote to it on 1st November, saying that it is supportive of increased provision of allotments, but that it needs to identify sites and funding.

  • Matlock-based environmental project Little Green Space has launched a Get Matlock Growing campaign, encouraging residents to join the grow-your-own food revolution, and working for more allotment space in the town. The press release is at www.littlegreenspace.org.uk/Get_Matlock_Growing.htm.

  • The Matlock Mercury (www.matlockmercury.co.uk) launched a campaign, ‘Allotments for All’, in its November 11th issue. With Wellfield Allotment Society and Little Green Space, we helped organize a photo session with the paper to help kick-off the campaign. We will be working with the Mercury to keep highlighting the need for more growing space in Matlock, as well as other issues about local food.

  • Rob Clarke (speaking for Transition Matlock) and Richard Bunting (speaking for Little Green Space) made a presentation to Matlock Town Council on 15th November, urging councilors to help lead the campaign for more allotments, and to proactively work to ensure more sites.

 

Matlock Town Council’s role

We are working to identify potential sites, but it would be a big step forwards if Matlock Town Council would agree to manage and fund any new allotment.

  • Sadly, in November the council has twice voted against budgeting for new allotment space for the next financial year. Town councilor and Transition Matlock member Martin Burfoot presented motions for funding to be set aside at the town council’s 1 and 15 November meetings – but each time the motion was defeated by just one vote.

  • In fact, on 15th November, Matlock was one vote away from the town council agreeing to allocate £3,000 for the setting-up of new allotments, taking this from an increased Christmas lights budget that has now reached £25,000. This was despite Little Green Space offering to seek to match-fund any start-up funds agreed by the council.

 

What can you do?

  • If you want to add your voice to the growing demand for more allotments, you can contact the town council by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or writing to Matlock Town Council, Imperial Rooms, Imperial Road, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3NL.

  • If you are one of the many people who have never gone on the council’s allotment waiting list because it is so long there seems no point, register anyway – it sends a signal that there is a real demand in the town.

  • Support the Matlock Mercury’s campaign on this issue. A vibrant local newspaper is an essential part of a thriving community. Drop the paper a letter to show your support.

 

Why do allotments matter?

As with many solutions to climate change and peak oil, allotments also bring many additional benefits to individuals, families and communities.

  • Allotments are important green spaces and a source of sustainable food. They are good for wildlife and biodiversity as well as for people. Own-grown food reduces carbon emissions, fossil fuel use, food miles and packaging. It can be spray-free, and offers opportunities for recycling, including composting.

  • In terms of health and quality of life, access to green spaces improves people’s physical and mental health. Children thrive on fresh air and exercise. Growing your own food is an effective way of encouraging children to try new fruit and veg.

  • Allotments are a valuable community resource – with benefits that include social interaction, and the bringing people together from all backgrounds.

  • And there are financial benefits, for individuals and the community. A standard allotment can provide a family of four with fruit and veg for a year. A 300 square yard patch can produce over £1500 worth of food per year. Growing your own is also part of localization – it goes hand in hand with encouraging people to shop locally, support local retailers, and support their community. All of which reduces carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels, but also boosts the local economy.

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