Allotments Are Not The Prettiest Things

Forgive the long title to this piece.  It is taken from this article published yesterday on Haverhill Echo website.  The piece talks about two neighbouring Cambridgeshire parishes, Linton and Hildersham.  Linton is considering positioning a new allotment site on agricultural land which runs over the Hildersham parish border and also happens to be adjacent to a house. Apparently the residents have ‘expressed concerns’.  In addition there are also issues about safety of access to the site.  Well so far so normal.

What stood out to me however was the quote (I am assuming it the Haverhill Echo have reproduced it correctly) from Hildersham Parish Council chairman Keith Day.

“If a formal proposal is made we will have to express some concern of the impact of the amenity on the countryside.”

He goes on to say “Allotments are not the prettiest things and you can’t make them attractive – we have allotments largely shielded from open view, but this area is completely open to view and can be seen from the adjoining property.”

Not living in Cambridgeshire I have no vested interest in the outcome of this particular case but as an allotment holder I find it an astonishing point of view. Firstly it seems to me that even the most hardened vegetable grower has more than a passing interest in the appearance of their plot, secondly it does not give even a passing nod to the heritage of allotments in this country and the widely acknowledged positive benefits they have within the community.  To make the point further this is a quote taken directly from the Cambridgeshire County Council website.

‘Allotments are a great way to meet people, contribute to local sustainability and help wildlife, and of course a source of good food!’

In this instance Keith Day seems to have made himself clear but what do you think?

P.S. Thank you to those on Twitter who got the conversation about this going.

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6 Responses to “Allotments Are Not The Prettiest Things”

  1. georgie newbery July 11, 2012 @ 3:55 pm (#)

    i love the horticultural patchwork of allotments – it is the most fun part of any train journey to watch out for them as i pass by towns and admire the clever way the gardeners use the space they have to house a shed, a collection of dahlias, a wrought iron table and chairs where they can sit and admire the gloriousness of the view they and their neighbours have made. to say allotments are ugly is foolish!

  2. Joanne July 11, 2012 @ 4:48 pm (#)

    How ridiculous, i dont have an allotment but i turned my lawn into a mini one just for me. Raised beds surrounded by old bricks, flowers weaving through the growing veg, fruit trees & bushes. Of course people take pride in their allotments, any growing space come to that.

  3. Tedpipes July 11, 2012 @ 6:36 pm (#)

    I have a vegi plot in my garden. It is shielded from the main part of the garden, as with the best will in the world they do not add to the attractiveness of the flower garden, they in fact distract from them. The council officials who wish to site an allotment next to a private dwelling would not allow one next to their house as it may reduce the potential value of their property, it would certainly reduce the view. Perhaps that is were it should be sited. Elected officials at all levels have this skill of ignoring the very people who put them in the position they hold with the help of a short memory, of course. We all know that the allotment system is a great benefit to the community but no one wants it next to there home as they are mainly an eyesore. I know that most of the true allotment holders do try to keep a neat and tidy site, but there are many others who don’t, and this is the problem. We do need many more allotments in this country and to get the support of the local residents to the proposed sites I think the existing sites may need to look to their housekeeping. This may be difficult to do as local councils do not appear to have a universal view of the allotment system (siting, costing and maintenance). A difficult problem, but one that will have to be addressed.

  4. Flighty July 12, 2012 @ 3:57 pm (#)

    What an allotment site looks like is as much a council responsibility as it is the plotholders. Some councils are proactive and ensure that the rules are adhered to whilst others simply do nothing. The latter often results in plots that are uncultivated wildernesses or used as a dumping ground.
    Petty council officials often seem to be the norm nowadays which certainly add to the problem.
    As much as anything a change of attitude by everybody is needed. I live in hope! xx

    • victoriawildman replied: — July 12th, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

      We are self managed, although that brings its own issues. Situations not always easy to deal with when you know those concerned. Also the whole process needs to be quicker.

  5. Maureen July 20, 2012 @ 8:11 pm (#)

    I think I have to agree with Tedpipes. I have an allotment plot and I am really proud of it and try to make it as attractive as possible. But sadly not all plot holders keep theirs in a good state and sometimes our allotment as a whole looks overgrown and an eyesore. Especially when as recently the weather prevents cultivation. So as much as I love my little plot I wouldn’t like to live near and be overlooking the site as a whole.


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