Sunday 29 December 2013

Brent makes good progress on allotments and food growing

My Birchen Grove plot this morning
As the Farm Terrace alloment holders in Watford take legal action against Eric Pickles in a bid to save their plots LINK it seems a good time to review the state of allotments and allotment gardening in Brent.

The appointment of Vanessa Hampton as Food Growing and Allotment Officer and the updating of food growing strategies seems to have resulted in a much more proactive approach with issues such as uncultivated and over-grown plots being dealt with more efficiently.

In a letter to allottees Hampton reports:
  • 91% of plots are let
  • 99.6%of allotment plots are let or under offer
  • 98.7% of plots are being cultivated (up from 92% last year)
  • There have been extensive clearane to bring over 70 plots overgrown with invasive weeds back into cultivation
  • From April 2013, over 15 metric tonnes of rubbish was clear from allotment sites
  • She worked on sites with volunteers including 120 young adults from the Challenge Network, the Wembley Stadium Geen Team and Veolia Environmental Services
  • Ongoing renovation of council-owned sheds and drainage improvement works at various sites
Vanessa is to be applauded on the progress she has made in a short time and it has been good to see visible progress on my own site at Birchen Grove. Previously uncultivated plots were left for a long time giving weeds and brambles a chance to get a real hold on them, making it harder to bring them back to cultivation and spreading weeds seeds all over neighbouring plots.

An uncultivated plot at Birchen Grove
Following in the steps of the gardening classes that have take place on the Metropolitan Housing allotments on Chalkhill Estate, Vanessa Hampton is running free master classes on 'Preparing Your Plot for Cultivation' for new or inexperienced tenants to help them 'get started on plot clearance and digging with confidence'.

She will show tenants how to transform their plot from 'grass to a productive food-growing area'. The classes are open to any plot holder, irrespective of where their plot is located are available on two dates at two different venues. They will be held regardless of weather conditions.
  • Saturday 25th January 2014 from 11am-1pm Birchen Grove, Kingsbury NW9 8SE (Map showing location on entrance gate if you are late)
  • Saturday 1st February 2014 from 11am-1pm at Gibbons Road allotment, Gibbons Road, Harlesden, NW10 9BR
Advance booking and tools not required but wear sturdy waterproof shoes and warm layered clothing.

Not so welcome of course is the annual increase in allotment fees. The proposed increases below are subject to the final decision of Full Council in February.

Brent Residents - Increase of 3% which raises rents from £81.11 annually for 5 poles to £83.50. Council owned sheds will increase by  4% to an annual rent of £22.50 (£21.63)

Non Brent Residents - Increase of 15% which raises rents from £81.11 to £93.30. Council owned sheds will increase by 16% to £25 (£21.63)

Community groups that serve mainly Brent residents will have the same increases as Brent residents.

However the concession for 'senior citizens' of a 50% discount on the first 5 poles will now start at the age of 60 for both men and women. Previously it was 65 for men and 60 for women.

Residents who receive unemployment benefit will  need to provide up to date proof of their status from the DWP or similar in order to receive the concessionary rate for 2014..

By the way, I still had a broad bean in flower out in the open on my plot today, December 29th...

For more on the Farm Terrace Campaign follow this LINK

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