Hands off our allotments
Allotment holders in Battenhall have dug deep to reject a suggestion that their plots be handed over for car parking to reduce road congestion at school drop-off and pick-up times.
People renting plots at Timberdine Avenue Allotments reacted to Andrew Oliver’s view in the St Peter’s Voice letters pages that the site be used to alleviate the parking issues around Cherry Orchard Primary School by highlighting the benefits of their hobby.
Among those were improved health, the sense of community that had been built up and the quality of the vegetables and fruit they were growing.
Pat Gething, the volunteer site representative for the allotments, described the parking idea as “absurd and ill advised”.
She explained: “I would like to point out that this allotment site is the best, well maintained and fully let in the entire city – one of approximately 25 sites strategically placed around the city to enable over 900 local residents to avail themselves of the benefits that can be obtained from working the ground and growing one’s own food.
“This includes physical, social and mental health benefits which are essential to maintain our futures and support the National Health Service in our society.”
Mrs Gething also rejected Mr Oliver’s view that most of the allotment holders probably did not live near the site.
She said: “Timberdine Avenue Allotment site has a total of 51 tenants, the vast majority of whom live nearby and within easy walking distance of their plot.
“Well over half of them actually have St Peter’s, Timberdine or Bath Road as part of their address.”
Mrs Gething went on to list the allotments’ social, diversity and ecological benefits.
She said: “We have raised beds to enable less able residents to be included and a composting toilet which is maintained by the tenants.
“The communal areas are kept neat and tidy by volunteers on the site and the grass and weeds are composted for all to use.
“We also have a plot which is specifically tenanted by Cherry Orchard Primary School themselves and they have a special entrance gate which enables them to access this plot easily.
“The children love their opportunity to grow their own vegetables and they are harvested and used by the school kitchens.
“The allotment site is also a wildlife sanctuary where slowworms, frogs, toads, newts, hedgehogs, all manner of birds, bees, butterflies and dragonflies exist.
“These creatures flourish on a regular basis because they are cherished by those who maintain the area which is a beautiful and useful green lung in the middle of our city.”
Referring to the parking issues affecting Timberdine Avenue and Timberdine Close she said: “I am appalled at the attitude of those who complain about not being able to drive and park close by to deliver their children to schools.
“They would be far better considering the benefits of walking those children to school each day.
“By driving them everywhere to avoid the short time required to be spent giving them some fresh air and exercise at each end of the day they are, in fact, causing pollution, which may well seriously endanger their futures.”
Generations of families grow produce on plots
People of all ages and family generations work on the Timberdine Avenue Allotments.
Out of the 51 plot holders 26 are over 60, eight are over 70 and the rest are young families.
On one holding, grandparents, parents and children all tend a plot.
A range of vegetables, fruit, plants and flowers are grown.
The allotments are thought to have been there for around 60 years, with at least one plot holder having hers in her family for 50 years.
Pat Gething said there was not as long a waiting list for plots as people might think, with 13 having been let last year.
Tenants are expected to maintain certain standards in the upkeep of their plots.
The Timberdine Avenue group has its own association, which is linked to NASALG (National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardens).
The site’s quality has been recognised in competitions for allotments across the city of Worcester.
Much of the work to main-tain the overall site is done voluntarily by plot holders.
That has included creating a communal grassed picnic area where apples and plums can be grown.
They also clubbed together to buy wood to make composting bins and are making compost for people to use.
They have plant sales in the spring, barbecues in the summer and a special meal after Christmas. Excess produce is donated to charities. Across Worcester’s 25 allotment sites there are 900 plots.
Mrs Gething said: “This is a fantastic place to be. You can be on your own or you can mix.
“If you’re fed up with the four walls that are enclosing you, you can come down here.”
She added: “I love this site and I love the people on it.
“They’re lovely people and they work very hard.”