Archive for the ‘allotments Greenwich’ Category

Allotments – Again

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This has to be one of my most frequently-asked of all frequently-asked questions (along with cleaners and wedding venues…) “How can I get my green fingers on an allotment?”

To look at last week’s Greenwich Time’s double spread, you’d think all you’d have to do is call up the nice people at the council and arrange for a viewing so you could take your pick from the array of available plots.

Quite why they spend two pages telling you of the joys of allotmenteering when there aren’t any patches of soil available in the entire borough is a mystery to me. It only makes the council look bad for having sold them all off and insensitive for rubbing our noses in it.

The Council website reiterates a sorry tale for anyone living in Greenwich town centre. Not only are the very few sites totally full, but the waiting lists are so long they’ve been closed. And don’t even think about the Prior Street Allotments on the old railway line – privately managed and with the Waiting List of Doom.

Sadly Phantoms don’t get any favours – I’m hanging about, spectral spade in phantom paw with the rest of you.

There are one or two sites where you can go on the waiting list – but they’re way out in the further reaches of the borough – and at some point you have to ask yourself how far you’re prepared to (wait) to travel for a few spuds.

If you look at an old map from the turn of the last century, much of East Greenwich and the Peninsula were given over to allotment gardens, now lost to Progress.

I have wondered to myself if the council have no intention of doing anything with the old hospital site for a year or so, whether they could do some kind of short-let thing. The ground’s piss-poor but keen gardeners have a way – besides surely the council has access to a load of compost from our organic bins…

No, I’m not holding my breath either.

There are plot share schemes. I have my reservations about them, personally, but if you’re desperate, it’s worth a try. The most local one I know of is Transition Westcombe’s Patch Match programme – and you will probably meet some interesting folk along the way.

In the meanwhile, if you’re up the Deptford end of Greenwich, and you have a few hours on your hands, you might be interested in a different thing entirely.

Jonathan is a teacher at the Nursery at Grinling Gibbons Primary in Deptford. For the last two years they’ve run a rather splendid growing/allotment project in the spring/summer where the children have planted, grown and eaten a variety of vegetables between April and July. But he has a problem.

“The person who assisted us, a gardener, has gone AWOL and I could really use the assistance of someone with some experience of growing veggies etc. who wouldn’t mind spending an hour or two a week working with myself and some great 3-5 year olds,” he tells me.

“The upside is the chance to grow and eat your own produce or just to help out on a valuable project educating young children that a) all food doesn’t come from the supermarket and b) cooking and eating your own veg is great!”

He doesn’t tell me a downside, but I can guess. You’ll probably need to be police-cleared to the Nth degree. But if you enjoy getting soil under your nails, find the company of little children pleasurable and are keen to eat tasty school-grown veg, maybe the CRB check wouldn’t be so arduous after all…

Happy Waiting Lists, folks.