Not a lot of allotments about

DEMAND for allotments has been shooting up, with few available for budding growers.

Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller has been speaking to a number of allotment owners about the rise in interest and waiting lists for plots of land.

She would like to see more agricultural land being used for agricultural purposes, fewer restrictions from the planning department about erecting small tool or plant sheds, and more support from the planning services in promoting growing communities.

And the deputy is asking whether some States-owned land could be unlocked for community use, including growing.

‘It seems like after the lockdowns people have embraced gardening and growing more, and there are real health benefits associated with eating home-grown produce, being out in the fresh air and connecting with nature,’ Deputy Kazantseva-Miller said.

‘I would like to see every parish have an allotment scheme and more growing opportunities in schools.’

One suggestion was encouraging land owners who were not using their whole plot to consider allowing part of it to be used by community growers.

That is what Jane King has done at La Haute Lande Vinery in the Vale. Although the allotment patch was previously run by the parish, it was purchased by Mrs King and her husband five weeks ago to ensure that the land would continue to be used in this way.

When it was promoted on the Vale parish website that there were some plots available, the spaces were snapped up overnight and there is now a waiting list.

‘We’ve got 21 tenants at the moment and hope to have some more when we can clear the greenhouse,’ she said.

Most tenants live in flats or in houses with small gardens.

‘There is something really lovely about its community feel and it’s nice and quiet set back from the main road.’

The Castel douzaine has a 20-year lease on a plot of land that holds 18 allotments. Nigel Acton is the douzenier responsible for overseeing the site’s management, but said the renters were a lovely group and the whole thing was pretty well self-managed.

‘This year we’ve got a waiting list of about eight people, but those with allotments currently really enjoy the space and are not looking to move on from their patch any time soon.

‘Turnover is very low, probably largely because it’s a very nice space and there’s a great camaraderie as well. It’s become a bit of a social club – even in the winter they head down there and play cards in the shed.’

The parish is not looking to take on another plot of land just yet, although if the waiting list grows exponentially it is something that will have to be considered.

‘There’s quite a lot of infrastructure that needs to go on at the start, with water and pipes and the likes, and with a small team of 12 volunteers in the douzaine everybody has a fair workload already,’ Mr Acton said.

Interest in the land has been steady for the last three years that Mr Acton has held this responsibility, with two or three people a year calling to be put on the waiting list for an allotment.

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