Allotment plots split up to cope with growing demand

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Love Lane allotments in Penzance.

11th May 2021

By Juliet Lunam

Demand for allotments in Penzance has meant plots are being split up to allow more people to have one.
The town council manages about 200 plots across eight sites in the parish and anyone who lives within the parish can rent one.

But, since the pandemic hit, ‘growing your own’ has become a popular activity and there is a lengthy waiting list.

Becky Orchard, from the town council, said: “Restrictions on where we can go and how many people we can meet have made it a rough time and people seem to have relished the idea of having an allotment they can go to.

“We now have a long waiting list and so when a plot becomes available, we are trying to split it in two so more people can have a site.”

The current annual cost is between £20 and £32 depending on the size of the plot. Inspections take place once a month on all allotment sites to ensure they are in good condition and are being appropriately worked.

To inquire about taking on a plot, contact Penzance Council at the Penlee Centre, in Penlee Park, online at http://www.penzance-tc.gov.uk or by phone on 01736 363405.

To mark National Gardening Week, three allotment holders talked on the Penzance Council website about their passion for produce. Rae, who has a plot at the Trannack allotment, said: “After years of growing a small amount of fruit and veg in pots at home in our small backyard, we started our allotment journey at the end of November 2020. Our first day on the plot – which is approximately 100ft x 30ft – was very daunting.

The area was completely overgrown and unrecognisable as an allotment! “Over the weeks and months since, with only weekends (and the occasional day off from work) available to get down the ‘the lottie’, we have worked hard to clear the thick blanket of weeds, brambles, couch grass and a whole host of other debris from about half the plot!

Al- though it has been tough going, with a learning curve like the north face of Everest, the sense of accomplishment in the progress and improvements we have made is incredibly satisfying, especially as we are complete allotment novices.

“In such a relatively short space of time, we have managed to clear and create three large beds, dug them over – several times – and have now planted them out with a variety of fruits and vegetables.”

Roger is based at Love Lane Allotment. He explained: “On taking early retirement, I put my name down for an allotment as I assumed it is what retired people did, and promptly forgot all about it.

“Some time later I received a call saying my name had reached the top of the list and I had an allotment. Having never grown anything before in my life I through I would give it a go.

“The last five years has been a steep learning curve. I now realise onions and potatoes, like all fruit and veg, have their own different names and characteristics.

“We now grow enough onions, leeks, peas and beans to keep us going throughout the year and shallots to provide pickles."

"We eat fresh fruit from mid-April until October with having enough surplus to make a variety of jams and to freeze for winter puddings."

We now eat summer pudding throughout the winter.”

Judith, who works a plot on the Gulval allotment, offered her top tips: “Water, weed and feed is my little saying. “The secret to planting anything is to make sure the soil is well prepared, the roots are firmed in properly and the plant is watered well before and after planting. The more effort you put in the more you get out in every respect.”

A council spokesman added: “Penzance Council allotments have always been popular and over the last year during the covid pandemic we have seen a big increase in applications to our waiting lists.

There are many reasons why people have become so interested in allotments, from little or no gardens, wanting to reduce food miles, or just wanting to grow their own fruit and veg for their families.

“The reaction when someone from the waiting list is offered an allotment can be wonderful, we have even had someone cry with delight which makes our work so worthwhile!”

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