Sunday, 21 February 2010

Do you have a spare corner?

Two association members recently approached the committee members working in the shop to ask if any current Scarcroft plot holders might have a spare corner or bed that they are not using on their plot which they wouldn't mind this young couple gardening. This couple already have access to a bed on a friend's allotment, equivalent in size to a quarter plot.  They are gardening this bed conscientiously and productively.  They would now like access to a little more space.

This is a controversial request.  If a plot holder is having difficulty maintaining thier full plot, City of York Council wants them to give up their plot or at least half of it to the next person on the waiting list, which is currently around 50 people long on Scarcroft.  The Association would also prefer this to be the first course of action.  However, we are also aware that this does not always happen in practice and the issue is not clear cut.  Some plotholders are nervous that if they give up half their plot, the people who take it on will not look after it properly and then their plot will suffer from encroaching weeds from the adjacent neglected plot.  Also they can prefer to just share it with or loan it to a friend, thereby retaining some control over the area and who gardens with or near them.  In some cases the official tennant hasn't actually gardened the plot for some years but has unofficially passed it on to a friend (this is outside the council rules).  In other cases friends share a plot and both of them share the tenancy and then after a period of time the tenancy transfers from one individual to another without the plot ever being offered to the waiting list (this is legitimate and well within the council rules).  Sometimes keen plotholders like to help out their neighbours who are struggling and therefore incrementally (and without particular intent) end up gardening more than thier own original plot on a permanent basis.

Of course, when any of these things happen it is not very fair on all those people waiting patiently on the list and allotment access just becomes an issue of who you know.

So.......let's put it this way.  If you have a small corner you would like to give over to this couple to look after, either temporarily or for the longer term, please contact us at and we will put you in touch with them.  However, if you are struggling with your plot more significantly or have half a plot which you are not cultivating please consider contacting the council on and giving it up to all those patient souls hoping to get the chance to give allotment gardening a go.

I would be really interested to know your opinions on this issue, which might engender strong opinions, so please feel free to comment, using the comment tool below.  You can do so using your name or anonymously.  It is not my intention to offend or point the finger at anyone.

Caroline Bush


Anonymous said...

I can understand existing plot holders being reluctant to give up half of their plot to someone they don't know. Would it be possible for them to meet, say, the first three people on the waiting list, to see if they think they could share with one of them?

Another thought: would it be possible for an allotment to be given over to people on the waiting list - for them to have a very small area of a communal allotment. This would help people, who have not had an allotment before, learn what commitment is needed to keep on top of the weeds! Also this would be a way of existing plotholders getting to know new people.

I gave up half of my allotment at another York allotment site some years ago to someone, allocated by the site secretary, I didn't know but it has worked out very well. The person I share with has divided the plot with fruit bushes and invites me to pick what is on my side. Also, a friend of hers, helped me barrow the manure last Spring.

Scarcroft and District Allotment Association said...

The outcome of this request is that 3 different people will be helping one current allotment gardener for the period of one year. The person whose plot it is can not garden their plot this year, for personal reasons, but wants to continue with it in the future. There are 3 people who wanted a bit of extra space who will help this person out for one year only. After the year the original plotholder will take over again. I hope that if the original plotholder decides to give up their plot, it will go to whoever is next on the waiting list.