Sunday 12 August 2012

Hard work and imagination could produce a mini food growing revolution in Brent

Spring watering on my Birchen Grove allotment
 Over 90% of respondents agreed with the vision and main objectives of Brent Council's draft allotments and food growing strategy according to a report going before the Executive on August 20th. LINK

More than 500 alloment holders and people on the waiting list responded and there was a meeting attended by 430 people.

The main messages of the consultation were:

That the tenancy agreement is no longer fit for purpose and needs to be reviewed and reissued to allotment plot holder and the role of Site Representatives and the election process require review
• Consideration should be given to giving waiting list preference to Brent residents over non-residents
• Larger plots should be reduced in size upon vacancy to increase the number of plots available and reduce waiting list times.
• The fees and charges structure should be reviewed with consideration given to the introduction of differential pricing for residents and non-residents and the revision of concession rates to include an element of means testing.
• Options should be explored with regard to extending the number of self-managed allotment sites.
• Work needs to be undertaken on increasing engagement from under represented sections of the community as identified in the Equalities Impact Assessment.
• There is huge scope for increased partnership working and the promotion of the wider benefits of food growing to schools, social housing, health providers and arts organisations to raise awareness, increase capacity and establish a network of advocates.
• Although options for new permanent allotment sites are currently limited, there will be significant opportunities for the provision of temporary food growing sites, particularly in the Wembley and South Kilburn areas as part of regeneration projects.
• Ward working funding may be available for allotment sites and food growing projects and there is potential for closer collaboration between the council and independent food growing schemes to build on the work of the Brent Sustainability Forum.
• Future potential for the provision of raised bed schemes in parks and open spaces should be explored in appropriate areas which are identified as currently having an inadequate number of allotment sites and alternative food spaces.
• Stronger emphasis should be placed on the benefits of organic gardening, sustainable food supplies, land use and biodiversity as outlined in the council’s Green Charter.

There is much to be welcomed here and with a little imagination and hard work we should see benefits quite quickly.  

One immediate action should be to speed up the reallocation of unworked plots - there are a considerable number at Birchen Grove which are covered in grass and brambles and are harder to reclaim and cultivate the longer they are left.

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