Connecting all allotment communities in Greater London
The ARI summer 2004 Newsletter described the elements of round 3 of ARI's development. The Flagship Grants scheme applications were closed on 21 May 2004 and the Good Site Guide listing allotment good practice or innovative regeneration is now available. Beer and Busses provides bursaries for groups to visit regenerating allotment sites and application forms can be obtained from ARI's website. The third element in Round 3 is the Mentor Network. There are eleven Mentors distributed throughout England and Wales with three in South East England: One in Kent (Canterbury), one in East Sussex (Lewes), and one in London (Leytonstone).
ARI Mentors will take over a lot of the enquiry work that Bethan Stagg in Bristol and Deborah Burn in Newcastle are carrying out presently. Both are very limited in the amount of site visits which they can make and the mentor network will be able to increase the number of these visits.Mentors will provide a local level resource focussing on supporting associations and others such as 5-A-Day groups, Parent Teacher Associations and health care trusts.
Specifically Mentors will be able to undertake:-
- Site visits to advise on setting up an association.
- Suggest vandalism prevention and security measures on sites - and they could be as extreme as taking down all sheds.
- Walking a site to provide risk assessment on health and safety.
- Putting in touch with flagships sites or exemplars in the local area or region.
- Presentations - for example to a PTA on why they should take a plot or to a 5-A-Day Group on plot clearance.
- Providing a workshop on setting up a Committee for a fledgling organisation.
- Talking through allotment strategies with a local council.
The overall aim is to build capacity and competence within the allotment community especially those parts of it which are newly emerging. Equally important is the development of dialogue with established providers especially the local authorities and federations where mutual sharing of information is the goal not a strategy for those providers.
Another important link will be with the NSALG Regional Representatives who can give local induction and help evaluate schemes although each region will have its own strategy and London is divided between two NSALG regions. Mentors will become involved with any group only if they are asked and invited to do so.
ARI in London and the South East
At The Launch seminar of ARI on 2 April 2003 in Birmingham the round 1 grants were announced by Kate Lampard of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The recipient in London and the South East was Harrow in Leaf which received a grant to increase allotment use by immigrant communities and relieve waiting list pressure in Inner London boroughs.The grant is being used to provide disabled facilities, composting facilities, multicultural signage, increased security, new storage and shelter and to promote awareness of these facilities within the local community.
A second round of smaller grants were also made and the list of groups in London and the South East receiving these smaller awards was much larger and included Chinbrook Meadows, London which is going from strength to strength. Fifteen years ago they were down to six plotholders on a site of 95 plots. New plotholders were often disheartened by the amount of work needed to clear plots and also the heavy clay soil that they found underneath. The association have used the ARI grant to clear overgrown plots and ship in large quantities of sand and manure to make the soil more manageable.They have let all the plots which they have cleared so far - and the new plotholders seem to be staying on.
West End Allotment Association, Abingdon have used their ARI grant to buy fence posts and wire netting. Thjis was really helpful in tackling their local pest - rabbits! The netting had to be buried into the ground to stop the bunnies burrowing in. They have also carried out plot clearance and have been busily promoting the fact on local radio and the local press, especially after receiving the winning plot award in 'Abingdon in bloom'. They have even got a mention on the Council's computerised information point in the local library. All this publicity has generated lots of interest, particularly from younger people and families, and the association now has ten new members.
Some of the other groups in the London Area that have received Round 2 grants are Dulwich Horticultural and Chrysanthemum Society, Hale End Horticultural Society,Iver Heath Allotment Association, Kenton Allotments Association, Merton Allotments and Gardens Association, Old Windsor Parish Council, Richmond Allotment Holders Association, Seven Kings and Goodmayes Allotment Society Limited., South Harpenden Allotments and Garden Society and Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council. The amounts awarded have ranged from £500 to £1,650.
The applications under the Flagships Grants Scheme, open only to associations and non-statutory bodies, closed on 21st. May this year and currently all ARI grant application schemes are closed.
It is also important to make clear the areas in which the Mentor scheme will not be involved:-
- Legal battles over threatened sites or Council disputes.
- Other Council wrangles
- Stalls at public events
- Technical problems such as contaminated land
- Advice about husbandry will not be part of the Mentor's role - but it will be an experience shared with any group contacted.
In summary the aim of the Mentor scheme is to meet some of the latent demand for allotments by promoting the regeneration of allotment sites and raising the profile of allotments.
ARI London Mentors
Jeff Barber, 39 seagry Road, London E11 2NH
Ian White, 9 Walters Way, London SE23
The Allotments Regeneration Initiative (ARI)
A partnership between:-
The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG)
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG)
The QED Allotments Group
The Institute of Leisure Amenity Management (ILAM)
Funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
and SEED (New Opportunities Fund)
Allotments Regeneration Initiative
The Green House
Bristol BS3 4NA