Saturday, 7 February 2009

'Growing' Concern for Allotments

GARDENERS wanting to grow their own food face a wait of up to NINE years for a plot on a council allotment site in Wales. I have carried out a national survey of local authorities in Wales to find out how they are responding to the growing demand for allotments.

A total of 2,750 people are on the waiting list at the fourteen local authorities that supplied complete data. Some councils are looking to provide more land, but other local authorities have said that they have no plans to release more land for food growing.

Even more troubling is the revelation that many people face waits of several years to get one. The longest waits are in Monmouthshire, where there are just two local authority sites and 86 people queuing for a plot, with a waiting time of between three and nine years.

I’ve spoken to allotment holders and people on waiting lists all over Wales. Councils are supposed to provide enough allotment land, yet these figures show that most are not. Local food growing has so many benefits - people get good exercise, good quality cheap food and it enables us to stay in close contact with nature, which has proven benefits in terms of mental health. The climate crisis adds further impetus to expand local food growing projects. Plaid has campaigned for more growing land for our communities for some time, and these figures show the need to continue that campaign.

I am calling for the Welsh Government to put together and fund a national strategy for local food. A good start would be a dedicated member of staff in each local authority who could co-ordinate local food growing and organise community gardening projects. We could then promote allotment gardening and expand the opportunities to teach young people how to produce food and work with the land.


James D said...

Have at least six of those 86 in Monmouthshire made written representations to the council under the 1908 act? Okay, it's a spectacularly inefficient and bureaucratic process (there are at least four other acts trying to define it!), and reform by the Assembly -- even if it were just consolidating the legislation -- would be a good thing, but people should make use of the existing process.

Leanne Wood said...

The groups I have been in contact are aware of this provision in the 1908 act. They have gone through that process, and not got very far. As I undertand it, local authorities have to consider what land is available if petitioned by 6 people. There is no obligation on the local authority to provide land.